Guac God to Rock God, let's shore up that recipe, Jack
Well, it looks like Jack White has dug himself a click-hole for the Dead Horse Society that the Internet has become. And all for the love of guacamole (and hatred of bananas).
Because I work for a media company, it is my professional obligation to chime in on a trending local story that has anything to do with food. And when it has to do with guacamole, well, it becomes law. The only people happier than me that guacamole is in the spotlight are the folks in California and Mexico who usually spend the post-Super Bowl weeks in mild melancholia.
My wife and I were among the 5,000 sardines packed into McCasland Field House on the University of Oklahoma campus on Monday night. Nathan Poppe’s review summed up the imperfect but wholly satisfying show. So, rather than add my two cents there, it’s become clear I need to review his guacamole recipe.
White’s tour rider includes requests for a snack spread suitable for a standard watch party for the sporting event du jour or holiday get-together. If you really want to throw a unique pre-concert party, Jack, check out the latest episode of “Portlandia.” Within the spread requests is not only guacamole but a specific recipe to follow. Hey, I get it. You want something done right, you sometimes have to give people directions if you’re not around to do it yourself.
Many have poked fun at White’s preference for chunky style guacamole, but I’m with him on this. If the avocados are perfectly ripe and in season, it’s a shame to smash them into smithereens. (Not The Smithereens).
In the film “It Might Get Loud,” White came off as a student of music — a fellow who approaches his craft like his life depends on it. And he plays his guitar with the same desperate pursuit. This practically maniacal attention to detail makes him one of the great rock and blues musicians of our time. A rock god in the truest sense. But a Guac God he is not. I; however, am.
So Jack, because you’ve consistently inspired me with your art, I’ve got some ideas for refining your guacamole.
Let’s go down the list of your current ingredients:
8 Hass avocadoes sliced crosswise and spooned out is exactly how to serve perfectly ripe avocados” Problem is, the week AFTER the Super Bowl is not a great week to find perfect avocados. The week BEFORE the Super Bowl or June through early September and you’re golden. In the winter, it might be necessary to mash the avocados completely with a dash of Avocado oil.
4 vine-ripened tomatoes: Again, very seasonal ingredient. Those vine-ripened in a hot house are okay, but they are overly expensive for a middling result. I recommend sun-dried tomatoes in the winter.
1/2 a yellow onion (chopped): OK, now we’re really in trouble. Guacamole is a Mexican dish and yellow onions don’t exist in Mexico. Instead, go with a white onion soaked for 15 to 30 minutes in a mixture of water and white vinegar to deflame them. Then pat them dry before mixing them in.
1 full bunch of cilantro. Meh. This time of year it’s more acceptable than usual because of the uncertainty of the quality of avocados. When avocados are perfect, cilantro is just getting in the way. But not a serious misstep.
4 Serranos, deveined and chopped: Excellent choice, but I prefer not to devein them. But I like it hot. Would’ve thought Jack did, too, but Detroit isn’t a training ground for pepper-heads. Might I suggest leaving one pepper with its firepower untempered and go from there.
1 lime: Again, if the avocados are lacking this is a good call. But if they’re pristine, tread lightly. You can always add more.
Salt and pepper to taste: Salt yes, black pepper no. I love black pepper like Iggy Pop loves going shirtless, but never, ever in guacamole. Salsa? Sure. But not guacamole.
What’s missing? Garlic, of course. In fact for this much guacamole I would add 4 cloves mashed with 4 teaspoons of salt. Orange juice. Rather than a whole lime, I would do a mix of one part lime juice and one part orange. It’s a more balanced flavor that complements the avocados as beautifully as Meg’s clunky drums did Jack’s razor-sharp guitar in the old White Stripes days.
As for the hubbub? Listen, I don’t find Jack’s disdain for transparency nearly as troubling as Gov. Mary Fallin’s. White’s job is to make the best music he can. His understanding of the importance of open records doesn’t affect that. We should all be for transparency, but then I don’t see a bunch of folks going on Facebook to let their friends know they just cheated on their spouses, stiffed the Salvation Army ringer at Christmas or parked in a handicapped space because “I really was in a hurry.” In other words, just because White said things that made it clear he is ignorant about open records doesn’t mean his music or performance should be judged for it. Educated? Sure. We could all use that.
As for his requests, well, quirky tour riders are not breaking news. Morrissey’s meat phobia really is bananas as you’ll read here. The kids at the OU Daily had a little fun with Jack’s requests, which is their right. Jack was put-off by it, which is his right. No one died, no one got bullied. Both sides are guilty of making something out of nothing. But that’s just the kind of thing the internet is so great at turning into a faux-alarm fire. But the internet is powered by us. So all of us are guilty of misuse, everyday. It’s like using the Ark of the Covenant to melt cheese for nachos because “it’s so much faster than the microwave.”
Then there is White’s agents grand-standing, which is flat stupid. But molehills everywhere have agents to thank for growing them into proper mountains. Personally, I hope White returns and his management at Monotone Inc., only moments ago sent out an email claiming they never stated they would not return. I love that he plays small, intimate venues when he could easily fill larger ones, but McCasland was not a perfect fit. The booze and smoke ban was a bad fit for a rock show, and the impossibly small corridors made a trip to the merch table like an attempt to get a burger from Nic’s at noon. So from a selfish point of view, I hope when he comes back it’s somewhere else.
Finally, here’s a wintertime guacamole recipe sure to pack your tour rider with some seasonal punch and shame the snark out of any click-trolling wonk who hasn’t left their laptop since Perez became more recognized than Conrad among Hiltons. (Paris is safe, she has a sex tape.)
8 avocadoes, as ripe as possible
2 tablespoons avocado oil, if needed
4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, lightly toasted and julienned
1/2 a white onion, chopped and deflamed in a solution of two parts water to one part white or apple cider vinegar.
4 serrano peppers, 3 deveined, all of them minced
4 cloves garlic mashed into 4 teaspoons kosher salt
juice of half a lime
juice of half an orange
4 slices of bacon, cooked crip and crumbled
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
1 bunch cilantro, leaves removed and minced
Slice open the avocados and determine the quality of the avocados. If they are perfectly ripe, not stringy, show no bruising and have no firmness, remove the seed and cross-cut each half and spoon out the meat and skip the avocado oil. If they show of the aforementioned conditions, remove the seeds and scoop meat out into a bowl. Add the oil and mash together.
Add all remaining ingredients. If you want it to be pretty, sprinkle the cheese, bacon and cilantro over the top and give it a pop of paprika.
Source; Dave Cathey, Food Dude and Jack White fan.