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  • Signe Langford

The Real Mad Mexican

Originally posted on 10/3/2013

I'm willing to forgive the humiliation of having my picture taken standing beside a cardboard cutout of Miss Avocado, because Chef Jose Hadad - owner and chef of Frida - makes such bloody good food.

And no, I'm not going to show you that picture. Gawd knows it's going to turn up somewhere courtesy of the heartless avocado people.

But then this happened. Mini tacos with braised duck, guacamole, pico de gallo and - wait for it - duck crackling.

I love the bright, green, flavours of Mexican cuisine. Real Mexican cuisine. Tex-Mex is too often heavy with dairy - glorpy cheese and sour cream - rice, flour tortillas and oil. If authentic Mexican food is a flitting, brightly coloured, songbird, then Tex-Mex and whatever that stuff is we find in most chain restaurants is a great, lumbering, Jabba the Hutt. I would call what Chef Hadad does Modern Mexican; it's authentic, but not roadside authentic, and it's refined without being sanitized.

The dinner was put on by Mexico, SAGARPA (the Ministry of Agriculture of Mexico, and the Avocado people - including the shapely Miss Avocado), who gave Chef the challenge of incorporating avocado into every course. Pfft! No hay problema!

It was even in the ice cream that melted over our warm, sugary, crunchy, goat's milk caramel-filled churros. Allow me to repeat that last bit; goat's milk caramel. think; dulce de leche, but made the proper way. It's called cajeta, and it's wonderful...and yes, a tad goaty. But I'm a fan of all things goaty; especially when said goatiness is a thick, creamy, golden, syrup.

Here's a little avocado 101 from the Miss Avocado website:

One-fifth (1 ounce) of a Hass avocado has 50 calories, 3 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 cholesterol and sodium, and 1 gram of dietary fiber.

They provide nearly 20 essential vitamins and minerals: potassium, folic acid and other B-vitamins, as well as vitamins E and K.

They also contain phytonutrients, believed to help prevent many chronic diseases.

Avocados act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene as well as lutein and vitamins A, D, K and E from foods that are eaten with avocados.

Avocados are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant which has been shown to be concentrated in the macula of the eye. Research suggests that it may help maintain healthy eyesight as we age. An ounce of avocado contains 81 micrograms of lutein. (That's the same good stuff in tomato, so you can see why these two South American natives go so well together. SL)

And this is interesting, but surprisingly, no one mentioned the link between avocado and male reproductive health. I'm getting too old for all this delicate political correctness.

Here's a little avocado history: The Aztecs spoke the language, Nahuatl, and it contained the word ahuacatl meaning both "fruit of the avocado tree" and "testicle" (see the resemblance?). Spanish invaders had trouble pronouncing ahuacatl, (I know I do!), so they said it as aguacate. Still other Spanish speakers started saying avocado (now abogado), instead of ahuacatl. The word avogato means pear (see the resemblance...again?) and so, mix all this up together, as we humans will, and in 1697 we see the first written record of "avocado" in English.

And so, with tummies full of fabulous modern Mexican and silky avocado - six ways - we are sent back out into the warm, windy, October night, clutching bags filled with Chef's Mad Mexican line of chips and avocado dips.

Please don't hate me because I had smooth, healthy, delicious guacamole scooped up with the thinnest, crispiest corn chips ever, for my breakfast. Hate me because I'm an outspoken old broad who gets grumpy when she's made to stand beside a cardboard cutout of a woman, younger and slimmer, with an impossible 10-inch waist.

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