I don’t usually need an excuse to eat fresh guacamole, but I’ve got one today: It’s Cinco de Mayo! What I love about this ingenious Mexican dip is that after you mash the avocados, you can basically improvise. Out of curiosity, I consulted three culinary bibles—the The Joy of Cooking, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and Ruth Reichl’s The Gourmet Cookbook. To give you an idea of their differences, Joy suggests mixing in “chopped fresh cilantro,” while Bittman merely uses it as a garnish. But Bittman does happen to be a believer in adding a “perfectly ripe” tomato, cored, seeded, and diced, while Reichl relegates tomato to the “variations” category — see, no consensus! So I made up my own recipe. I mashed two avocados, but not too much—a semi-chunky texture was the goal. Then I added diced tomato and white onion, minced garlic, Tabasco green pepper sauce (a substitute for serrano chiles, which I forgot at the store), kosher salt, fresh lime juice, and a dash of Worcestershire (strange, I know, but a Tex-Mex restaurant, Tejas, in my neighborhood uses it and has a rabid fan base). Now tell me: What are your secrets for making the perfect guac? —Megan K.
p.s. To keep the guacamole from turning brown while you wait for your guests, Bittman has a helpful tip: Tuck the pit(s) back into the mixture, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.