Welcome back! I’m cooking my way through Photoplay’s 1929 cookbook but I sometimes take detours. Today, I’ll be sampling a variation on a popular dip credited to one of Hollywood’s most charming leading men published in a Beverly Hills cookbook.
Ramon Novarro is sometimes described as a would-be Valentino (he wasn’t) and more often than not, articles focus on his tragic murder rather than his talents as an actor.
Novarro needs no introduction to silent film fans but I would like to mention the aspect of his screen persona that sets him apart: he had the ability to take epic sets and fancy costumes in stride and always managed to stand out from the pomp. If you think that’s easy, just watch any epic and notice who gets swallowed up
Novarro’s guacamole recipe is pretty classic with one major addition: either grapes or pomegranate seeds. I like pretty simple guac (no peas, please), just avocado, onion, cilantro, peppers, some lime juice, some spices, but the idea of mixing tangy, crunchy pomegranate seeds with creamy avocado sounded pretty appealing.
Calavo is a brand name for avocados and since Calavo took out a full-page ad in the cookbook, Calavo it is.
I bought most of my ingredients at Trader Joe’s like any good Californian and didn’t really notice the avocados until I started to prepare the recipe. And what do you think they were?
So, we’re very authentic! Ortega chilies were easy to find. In fact, it would be difficult to NOT buy them in California, they’re still the top brand. I presumed that Novarro used a four ounce can as anything larger would be more chili than avocado. Ortega green chilies are rather mild, so you’ll want to substitute some or all of the chilies for something hotter if you want more of a kick.
I bought pomegranate seeds because I am lazy and opted for red grapes so they would look pretty against the green avocado. The time I saved buying the seeds was negated by the fact that the grapes were seeded. Woe is I!
I am also in possession of some Mexican sea salt, so I decided to use it as a nod to Novarro’s birthplace and the home of guacamole. It makes zero difference in the flavor (I mainly use it as a finishing salt on steak) but I enjoy little touches like this.
I don’t see how these peppers could be smashed, they’re a bit too firm for that, but I did chop them.
The recipe says to season the guacamole “like a salad” and so I used the old saying as a guide: “You need a miser to add the vinegar, a judge to add the salt and a spendthrift to add the oil.”
So, about half a teaspoon of oil, a splash of a neutral vinegar (plain white stuff), a shake or two of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
I tasted the guacamole before adding the fruit and found it very tasty, if a bit on the mild side. (Needed cilantro but everything needs cilantro.) Next, I divided the dip, one for grapes and one for pomegranate seeds. (I used a kitchen scale to measure the grapes. Weight will vary depending on the density of the grapes, so weighing is superior to measuring.)
Here they are, aren’t they pretty?
Score: 4 out of 5. The fruits added the crunch and tang that I expected and they worked well when contrasted against the relatively mild guac. My tasters slightly preferred the pomegranate but enjoyed both versions.
I halved the grapes but I think I should have quartered or even coarsely chopped them because they were a bit chunky for dipping. The grape version is lighter and sweeter.
The pomegranate is a little more tart and tangy and the seeds add nice crunch.
Adding fruit to guacamole is a fun way to mix things up and it’s tasty to boot.
I definitely recommend this delicious recipe. Whip yourself up a batch and maybe put on a Novarro film. As if you needed an excuse!
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