Monday, May 16, 2005

Delicious Green Slime

No matter how old you get, you never stop learning. You have to keep your mind open to new discoveries all along the pathways of life's journey. You must never forget, though, that much of what you are learning is not about other people, places and things. You continue making new discoveries about yourself as well. I learned something amazing and totally unexpected about myself last week.

I really, really like guacamole.

It is far from the best food that I have eaten, but it astonishes me because I rarely think about guacamole.
My earliest memory of the word "guacamole" comes from an episode of Sanford & Son. As I recall, Fred Sanford proudly prepared for himself a large bowl of guacamole dip, which he set upon his living room table in anticipation of enjoying the emerald delicacy while watching television. Fred left the room just for a moment, a mistake which he would soon come to regret, for his neighbor Julio's pet goat, Chico, entered through the open front door and made straight for the guacamole. Fred Sanford returned to witness his snack being devoured by a furry horned beast. I was scarred for life, or so I thought. Why would I want to consume a green, slimy paste that I would forever associate with a salivating goat's tongue?

My personal experience of guacamole before last week consisted of very infrequent visits to Chi-Chi's Mexican Restaurant. Chi-Chi's dinners routinely included red-stained rice, reddish brown bean paste, and some amorphous green substance that I consumed simply because I do not like to pay good money for food, just to have some underpaid adolescent pour it into the garbage. The taste was unremarkable; to this day, I can not think of anything to compare it to, simply because it made no lasting impression on me. I ate it because it was there. By process of elimination, I deduced that the warm green sludge could only be guacamole; my visual knowledge of food allowed me to immediately discern which parts of the platter were the rice and which parts were the refried beans.

I never felt compelled to call the waitress over to me table and cry out, "More guacamole, please!"

There was no guacamole on the common food table at work last week. This is the area, found in most workplaces, where people drop off food that they feel like sharing with employees and co-workers. Most common food at my office usually consists of baked goods, such as bagels or birthday cakes. This time, however, there was something different. Some benefactor contributed a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa. When it comes to snack foods, chips and salsa are not exactly the Holy Grail and Spear of Destiny, though a good hot salsa can assault your tongue like a multitude of spear tips forged in the fires of Mount Doom. This salsa was unremarkable, and the chips were as salty and bland as any tortilla chips from a supermarket shelf. They were good because they were different.

Rather than being a hog and downing the lot, I decided that I needed some combination of dip and chips to keep at home. My front door is always kept closed and locked, so there is no question of a hungry goat wandering in and raiding my pantry in search of Yoda-colored ambrosia. Whatever I bought and brought home would be mine, and mine alone. No one else in my house shares my taste for lively food. There are times when I expect my wife's diet to consist entirely of a slice of Wonder Bread between two slices of Wonder Bread. My children's tastes have narrowed to the point that they are actually demanding cereal at every meal. No competition!

Ordinarily, my chip and dip choices at the supermarket end up consisting of ridged potato chips and bacon-horseradish dip. Not this time. Inspired by my tortilla experience of that morning, and drawn by the "Two for $5" signs, I grabbed a couple bags of tortilla chips and tossed them in the cart. Then came the dip selection. Which kind of salsa would I buy? My eyes moved toward the cheese dip, which has salsa in it. Perfect! Nothing like a little variety. So I reached out my hand to grab the jar of cheese dip...and snatched away a jar of green guacamole dip. This was no error on my part. I knew what I was doing. My hand was guided by some unseen force -- the spirit of Fred Sanford, perhaps? Maybe it was Chico the goat.

That night, I had a midnight snack such as I had never enjoyed before. I dipped the first chip into the green slime, then laid it upon my tongue...and it was gooooood. By the time that my stomach informed my taste buds that it was full and could sustain no more, I had consumed nearly half of the guacamole in the jar. Delicious! And to wash down my newfound delicacy, I drank Lime Coke from a frosted mug. The only thing missing was some tequila to complete the sensation.

It is difficult to put into words my guacamole dipping I will just quote the words spoken
in Pixar's Finding Nemo by the Australian-accented crabs sitting by the blowhole on the sewage pipes: "Manna from Heaven; Sweet Nectar of Life!"'s that good.

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