For those of you who don’t know, I’m the dinner chef here at Earth Lodge, six nights a week left with the task of feeding a house full of guests, a staff that has tasted most of the tricks I know, and the occasional whims of a wife, a saucy French foodie, and a pregnant boss. It’s a job I love, take on with relish (yes, I pun with relish, too), but one that, from time to time, has me scratching my head for new ideas, new recipes, new twists on old favorites: vegetarian jambalaya, BBQ spaghetti a la Memphis, soya kofte, curry pasta, whole wheat bread pudding with lemon rum sauce, etc. These days I’m wrestling with something else: avocadoes.
For those of you who don’t know, Earth Lodge is half hotel, half avocado farm, complete with 400 trees that line the mountain below the cabins, the pathway leading down to our little paradise. The trees yield crops twice a year, around July-August and December-January. This, of course, means we are now in the thick of it, the restaurant, the food bodega, the tool shed stacked with baskets of avocadoes, all of which have that precarious expiration date nature puts on natural things. The first harvest is hitting waves of ripeness, sending me 50…80…100 fruits, all to be used today, whatever day that might be.
I’m going to assume that most of you know what guacamole is, how the main ingredient is the fabled avocado, usually a little side of tortilla chips to scoop it up or spicy burrito to spread it on. Some of you may have even ventured to try the au naturel avocado, maybe a sprinkle of salt, a squirt of lime to jazz it up. It’s not all that uncommon to toss them onto salads or slice’em up for sandwiches, and in all the world’s fantastic food fusion, a sliver of avocado has become a regular in the sushi show. These are all great choices, but they have one thing in common: The avocado, more or less, is left as is, uncooked, the same basics—lime, salt, jalapeño—to accent it.
However, on the old avocado farm, the boundaries have to be pushed, the EL bread and butter mutated beyond expectation. Sure, people are game for the standard hits, but undoubtedly, during this time of year, the goal is to shove as many avocadoes down the mouths of our customers as possible. Luckily, they are usually quite willing participants in this. Which brings us to this morning: I got to spend a few hours in the kitchen experimenting with a pretty endless supply of avocadoes, stealing ideas from the internet to come up with my own weirdly delicious uses for our crop. It was definitely a few hours of knowing I was where I should be.
So far, there have been avocado-chocolate truffles, avocado-mint ice pops, baked avocadoes stuffed with pico de gallo and topped with cheese. We already had avocado pesto sauce and a couple of versions of avocado ice cream. Avocado bread, similar to banana bread, has long since excited customers looking for a little ‘cado-quirkiness. I’m currently working out the details of a creamy black bean soup in which the avocadoes are cooked into the soup rather than added as chunky afterthoughts. It’s making me popular around here, and consequently, I’m proposing avocado recipe trades for any of you out there who have stumbled across something fun.
This blog occurs once a week, the entries being thematically mixed between expat life in Guatemala and life as an NGO groupie. The photos for this blog, website, and my life are all provided by my beautiful wife Emma.