And Another Thing To Like About Mexico

They’re serving fake guacamole in the U.S.
BY: MARSHA MELLOW

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The United States gets almost all the avocados they consume from Mexico, and most of those from one state over on the mainland.

But due to a variety of issues, the squishy fruit costs about 90 percent more than last year at this time. No, we can’t blame this one on Trump tariffs, at least not yet. Most of the problem is the hapless avocado has suffered poor harvests this year, there’s been a growing demand, and cartel misbehavior in parts of the state of Michoacán, Mexico’s avocado heartland. The current price is about $2.60 U.S. per pound and some avocado analysts predict the price could go as high as $3.50 per pound. (Avocado analysts? They have those?)

Restaurants in the United States are feeling the pinch.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, a chain of fast-casual restaurants, is looking beyond Mexico for new sources of supply for avocados. For now, the chain still sources most of its avocados from Mexico, which produces 50 percent of all avocados, and 90 percent of those imported by the United States. But Chipotle is looking at purchasing greater quantities of the fruit from California, Chile, Peru and Colombia.

So, what’s a restaurant to do? Some creative chefs dove into their test kitchens and surfaced with a substitute for avocados to be used in their guacamole. Some are fessing up to the substitution, but others are passing their fake guac off as the real thing. 

The secret ingredient in the fake stuff is called calabacita. It’s a popular Mexican summer squash similar to zucchini. Literally, calabacita means little squash in Spanish. Variations of it can be found in other Latin American countries.

For the mockamole, the squash is first boiled and then mixed with green tomatoes, cilantro and chilis before being pureed into a creamy, smooth consistency.

Some Mexicans say that telling the difference between a calabacita guac and the real deal isn’t easy.

“The scariest part is that it tastes almost exactly like your standard taqueria guacamole”, said Javier Cabral, editor of the news and culture website L.A. Taco. “It almost fooled me,” he added, rather smugly. He did not elaborate on why he found the whole thing so scary, or why he was smug about his discovery.

So, if the prospect of eating zucchini when you’re expecting avocado scares you, don’t ask for details of your selection, just enjoy.

Mockamole is sometimes passed off as the real thing, now that avocados are the “green gold.”