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Carolynn Carreño Headshot

Ask a Mexican

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The Foodinista and I, both being, essentially, big talkers and guacamole-making novices, have each found ourselves facing an impending Guac-Off, with molcajetes, and no real idea what to do with them. Both of our molcajetes were sold to us as "pre-seasoned," but I found out the relative nature of this term when I made my first batch of guacamole in this primitive mortar -- extremely tasty (if I do say so myself), but unmistakably, errr... sandy. As I posted in a comment on the Foodinista blog, I got in a fight with some poor guy on the other end of the phone at Sur La Table yesterday over the exact definition of "pre-seasoned."

"You must have a lot going on," he said (and I wanted to strangle him), implying that no sane and healthy human being could get as worked up as I was over a bit of finely ground black lava in her guacamole. Yeah, I'm entering an effin' guacamole battle, I thought, but that would have made me look really crazy. Instead I backed down, and whimpered: "I would just like to make guacamole that doesn't contain particles of volcanic rock..." I hung up and kept grinding, no closer to a resolution.

Finally, I got the brilliant idea to write to my sister, who is actually my half-sister, which we're not supposed to say in our family but which is relevant because in the first line of the email (below) I refer to her aunts, who are not my aunts. Her aunts cook a lot. And she has a lot of aunts. I'm hoping that among them one will have a solution to my molcajete problem. Last week I had to ask this same sister to schedule an appointment with my new, non-English-speaking housekeeper. Which just goes to prove: It never hurts to have a Mexican in the family. Here's the email:

Hi Iridia [That's my sister's name; it's unusual even in Mexico, and absolutely impossible to say if you can't roll your r's, which I, thankfully can),

Can you ask one of your aunts or any other Mexican woman who cooks a question about a molcajete? I bought one, the traditional kind made of volcanic rock. I keep grinding sand into my guacamole. I seasoned it by grinding rice for an hour. Then again with rock salt. It's gotten better, so I am inclined to think that maybe it just needs more time. Can you help me!? I am entering a guacamole making contest and I cannot win with sand in the guac. And I cannot lose to a girl named Katie O'Kennedy. This would be humiliating. I would not be able to return to Tijuana ever. I would miss everyone greatly.

Your half-gringa sister, Carolina