'No peas in guacamole': Hong Kong Mexicans weigh in on NYT recipe row

Mexico's consul general in Hong Kong, and other Mexicans in the city, echo sentiments of US President Barack Obama about a New York Times recipe for the staple dish featuring green peas

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 July, 2015, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 July, 2015, 6:22pm

Guacamole is a little dip that’s been causing a big firestorm and it’s New York Times journalist Melissa Clark who’s been feeling the Twitter heat.

She’s even provoked a reaction from the president of the United States.

Her crime was the suggestion that peas could be added to the avocado-based dip.

The dish is one of those, like pizza – peasant food turned middle class status symbol – that seems ripe for arguments. Sour cream, cottage cheese and tomatoes are other contentious ingredients.

According to Carla Cortes, who is Mexican and a store manager at the Cali-Mex chain of Californian style taquerias in Hong Kong, peas simply don’t belong in a guacamole.

She says that an authentic guacamole should only contain Mexican avocados, a touch of garlic, a pinch of salt, chopped white onions, a squeeze of lime and chopped jlapeno peppers.

Respect the nyt, but not buying peas in guac. ...
From Barack Obama's tweet

Jose Manuel Gutierrez-Minera, who works in public affairs for the Mexican Consulate General in Hong Kong, goes further and insists the avocados, limes and chillis should all be Mexican.

Of course, a writer such as Clark is free to make her pea suggestion and land herself in the sauce.

She has her justifications for using peas. “The peas add intense sweetness and a chunky texture to the dip, making it more substantial on the chip. They also intensify the colour of the green avocado — and help the guacamole stay that way,” she writes.

But there has been no appeasing (sorry) her detractors, including Barack Obama, who took time off from minor matters like the Iran nuclear negotiations to weigh in.

“Respect the nyt, but not buying peas in guac.," he wrote. Obama is quite the traditionalist, liking his guac “classic” with onions and hot peppers.

“We are with the president on this one," says Cortes.

The consul general of Mexico in Hong Kong, Alicia Buenrostro Massieu, said: “No peas in guacamole!”

We are with the president on this one
Carla Cortes, Cali-Mex

Appalled traditionalists were so taken aback by the pea suggestion that they didn’t notice the addition of toasted sunflower seeds in Clark’s recipe.

Clark is not off the mark in saying that guacamole is used as a dip.

“Guacamole can be an appetiser dish or botana. It is made and served in a volcanic rock mortar called molcajete, and you dip into it with either fried cut corn tortillas called totopos, fresh cheese, or fried pig skin, called chicharrón,” says Gutierrez-Minera. He says that it can also be used as a condiment with “either lunch or dinner dishes especially inside and/or on top of tacos and quesadillas, or any other food you want really”.

Clark is not the first to cause a guacamole/pea controversy. British Labour Party politician Peter Mandelson lost much of his credibility because he thought a bowl of the northern English delicacy mushy peas was a bowl of guac. His inability to tell the difference was said to reflect his detachment from everyday life.

Pea lovers are yet to express outrage at the abuse of their favourite legume.