Have You Been Eating Fake Guacamole?
Odds are that you might have been eating an avocado-free version made from squash.
Guacamole comes in many forms. You can argue about whether it should contain peas, or red onion, or any number of spices, but there's pretty much no argument that the main ingredient in the dish is avocado. An avocado-less guacamole feels as anathema as an apple-less applesauce. What even would you call it? And yet, odds are that if you're a frequent guacamole consumer, you've probably eaten fake guacamole, or at least, guacamole that has no avocado in it at all.
If you've been to a restaurant and noticed that the guacamole is suspiciously thin and watery, well, that might be because rather than containing avocado, it's made out of the Mexican squash calabacitas. As Javier Cabral reports in LA Taco, the use of squash-based guacamole has become somewhat widespread thanks to the skyrocketing price of avocado. And the twist is that the fake guacamole tastes almost identical to the real thing.
How can it be? Cooking Youtuber Alejandra de Nava explains the basic recipe in this video, in which the squash is boiled with tomatillos for five minutes before being combined with many of the usual suspects, including cilantro, jalapeño, and garlic. The oil that the jalapeño is cooked in mimics the richness of avocados, giving it a creamy consistency.
In a side by side test, Cabral could barely taste the difference between the fake guacamole and the real thing made in a blender. The only tell was a slight sweetness that the squash gave to the dish that avocados don't. It's a clever trick that's worth mimicking if you can't find avocados, or if they're too expensive to reasonably be sacrificed into a dip, but it might leave some diners feeling cheated. If you want to make sure that your guac has actual avocado in it, the solution might be just to make it yourself.