Whether it be a picnic or a movie night, no summertime hang is complete without chips and dips. I’m not talking about those prepackaged salsas you can buy year round at the local corner store – I’m talking about dips that feature the fresh, colorful harvest of this season. Though the former is more convenient, the flavor and depth o the latter is far more enjoyable. I had a group of friends over the other day to watch one of my favorite Pixar films, Toy Story 3, and I decided to make two seasonal favorite of mine: Guacamole Auténtico and Mango Salsa.
The taste, health benefits, and overall aesthetic of the vibrant avocado has made it one of summer’s most beloved fruits. The word avocado comes from the Spanish term aguacate, which had been a simplification by Spanish explorers of the original Aztec name “ahuacatl.” Ancient cultures believed the fruit to be a symbol of fertility and passion (given its suggestive shape). Today, it is still seen as a natural aphrodisiac due to its nutritional benefits and rich taste. Though there are signs of cultivation dating back to 500 B.C., the avocado wasn’t introduced to the states until 1871 in Santa Barbara. California still stands as the number one producer of the nation’s avocados, accounting for 90% of the total crop. Fun Fact: an avocado tree in California can produce as many 500 fruits per year – that’s 200 pounds of avocado!*
This guacamole is a knockout, and I recommend using only the freshest of ingredients for it. The only thing I omit is the hot sauce given that it feels like a slightly less “authentic” ingredient. I also use jalapenos in place of the serranos to tone down the heat for those less predilection towards spicy fare. Although many purists would be furious at the inclusion of cumin, the slightly earthy flavor it provides with a touch of spice is a perfect complement to the avocado (as an added bonus, many Arabic cultures see cumin as a symbol of love**). This is a delicious guacamole, and comes together in no time – click HERE to learn how to make this summer standard.
When most hear the term salsa, they think tomatoes – I imagine very few picture mangoes as part of the equation. The mango, like the avocado, is another pitted fruit. Originating in Southeast Asia, mango comes from the Tamil term “mangkay.” The mango is featured prominently in this region, serving as the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. The mango, like the avocado is seen as a symbol of love and fertility.* Hindu culture uses mango leaves as decorations in doorways for weddings and religious ceremonies.^ This salsa is almost a simplified version of another variety I’ve featured on this blog. Like guacamole, the mango is the main ingredient, with a few other flavors and textures to provide body. This was surprisingly addictive, and not terribly spicy due to the mango’s sweetness. Click HERE to learn how to make this twist on salsa!
Given that these are both fruits symbolic of love, I thought it would be appropriate to choose a musical selection to match. I decided to go literal with this one, and chose Franz Liszt’s Liebesträume, or “Dreams of Love.” These three solo piano works are based on love poems Ludwig Uhland and Ferdinand Freiligrath: “Hohe Liebe“, “Gestorben war ich,” and “O Lieb, so lang du lieben kannst.”Liszt simultaneously composed song equivalents for these three poems, though these (unlike the piano solos) are rarely performed.^ Each piece represents a different type of love: exalted love, erotic love, and unconditional love. The most famous is No.3, which many simply refer to as “Liebesträum” (despite it being the title for the entire set). I have included a recording of this work, performed by Evgeny Kissin. Enjoy!
* “California Avocado History” Avocado.org http://www.avocado.org/california-avocado-history/
**”Cumin Seeds.” The World’s Healthiest Foods http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=91