The Origins and History of Guacamole
You've likely tasted a variety of kinds of guacamole, whether you were at a restaurant or making food for your family. It is a simple, tasty addition to nearly any meal.
Many people eat guacamole, but most people don't know the history of guacamole or many of the forms that it may come in. Ever since its explosion into popular cuisine, guacamole has expanded and found its way into many forms and styles.
Starting with its origins, we will explore the history and origins of guacamole, then go on to look into some of the tasty forms that it takes in the modern day.
The History of Guacamole
Guacamole is essentially a mix of mashed avocado and spices. The avocado finds its origins in South Central Mexico, where it grows naturally. For this reason, guacamole was created by the Aztecs who inhabited that region.
The food was host to a large number of health benefits. It contains many natural fats and nutrients in addition to being readily available. In fact, the nutritious value of guacamole is quite high.
It is a high source of carbs and healthy fats. The properties that come from avocados may help with cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It is also a great source of sodium and potassium which can work against developing hypertension and high blood pressure.
Additionally, guacamole is an excellent source of fiber and vitamins. One serving of guacamole can serve as a quarter of your daily recommended fiber intake. This helps to lower cholesterol and blood sugar as well.
Of course, these specifics were unknown to the Aztecs and Spaniards, but these people were aware that there were health benefits. In fact, many believed that the dish and avocados, in general, were aphrodisiacs.
The Word, "Avocado"
The origin of the word "avocado" also has an interesting backstory. Originally, the Aztec word for avocado was "ahu?catl," which actually meant "testicle. It's unknown whether that name came from the way that the avocado hangs from the tree in pairs, or if it was a reference to the aphrodisiac quality of the food.
When the Spanish adopted the word, it took on the name "aguacate." This word then developed into "avogato" over time. Finally, the modern usage of the word, "avocado," was the one that stuck.
Early English speakers exposed to the fruit used a derivation of the Spanish word. They called the fruit an "Avagato pear" because it bears a striking resemblance to a pear's shape. It was also known as an "alligator pear" because of the texture of its skin.
The word for guacamole is also related to the Aztec word for avocado. "Ahuacamolli" is the Aztec name for guacamole. It is a compound of the Aztec word for guacamole and the word for "sauce."
Origins and Popularity
While the specific birth date of the food is hard to pinpoint, it's known that guacamole has existed for over half a millennia ago.
Sometime in during the 1500's, Spaniards were introduced to avocado mixtures which were strikingly similar guacamole. Thinking that the treat would be a huge hit back in the home country, the Spaniards tried to create guacamole in Spain.
Unfortunately, though, avocados didn't grow naturally, so they had to try and use substitutes which could stand in their place. Eventually, they would begin to plant and grow avocados where possible.
Guacamole was rare in the United States for most of the 20th century. This is because there was a ban on Mexican avocado imports from the 1910's up until around 1997. After this point, avocados guacamole were introduced to popular American culture.
There was also a rise in the popularity of guacamole due to a corresponding rise in the Latin American population. In fact, the U.S. Hispanic population has increased by 500 percent in the last 50 years.
This data is confirmed by the estimation that around 1.6 billion avocados were consumed in the United States in 2012.
With great popularity comes a great opportunity for exploitation, I suppose. There has been a burst in avocado-related crime recently. Three men recently stole around $300,000 in avocados with the intent to sell them under the market rate.
People are also doing good with their love for guacamole. London has a yearly celebration called "Avolution" which is a day dedicated to all of the lovely off-shoots of the avocado. They host things like avocado ball bits, guacamole sumo suits, and a wide range of treats to taste.
Around 3 million photos are posted of avocados and guacamole each day on Instagram.
Restaurants are utilizing the dish to enhance their menus, countries that didn't see one avocado in all of human history are now important thousands just to make guacamole.
Most of the world's avocados are produced in the Mexican state of Michoacan. This state rests in the presence of a volcanic land base that is prime territory for the growth of avocados. This has made it the world's largest territory for avocado production.
In fact, the region produces a million tons of the fruit each year. The next closest competitor is Indonesia, which only contributes around 200,000 tons. The production of this fruit is not as easy as one might think.
Mostly because some Mexican cartels have identified the world's interest in guacamole as a way to exploit farmers of avocados. This has lead to a number of economic consequences and price variations for consumers outside of Mexico.
Appreciate Your Avocado!
The history of guacamole is wrapped up in that little green fruit sitting on your counter. There are also a lot of places that serve up tasty avocado dishes. It might even be worthwhile to take a trip to some of the areas where guacamole is served in exceptional ways.
If we're being honest, the closer to the home of guacamole you get, the better the dish tends to be. In Texas, for example, grapevine Mexican food is exceptional and worth the trip.
Learn more about the foods you eat, then go out there and appreciate them!