Brow Beat

The Controversial Ingredient Your Guacamole Has Been Missing

Guacamole being hand mixed with a fork in a glass bowl.
James Ransom

It’s summer, which means it’s high time for guacamole, right? Heat plus being outside plus tangy avocado-based dips seem to be a good match. In my book, that’s an unbeatable trio. We’ve touted guacamole (particularly this one) as one of your barbecue’s inalienable companions.

And yet, it seems guacamole has been hiding a secret. It seems our expectations are about to be upended, overturned, put down, flipped, and reversed á la Missy Elliot. Because there’s one element of a standout guacamole I—and apparently a whole bunch of us—have been neglecting to include: sour cream.

You may be asking why? Why now? Why this realization? Why mess with a good thing? To which I’d say: OK, yes, I agree. The almost supernatural combination of buttery avocado and salt and the brightness of lime is one that begs very little tampering. But also, experimentation and innovation are important cultural touchstones. Take, for example, Frankenstein and his monster, the chocolate chip cookie, the lunar landing. All of these were born from a desire—accidental or not—to push the limits of human knowledge.

Like in the latest season of Queer Eye, which was released on Netflix last Friday, the crew drives down to Kansas City in Episode 6 to meet Deanna, a Chicana woman who runs a Latino Arts festival. Upon crashing a dinner party (were they even invited??), each member of the Fab Five starts drilling into the area of the house that corresponds to their respective spheres of influence (JVN goes to the bathroom, Tan to the closet … You get the drill.)

Antoni Porowski, of course, heads to the kitchen where he starts talking to Deanna’s relatives about some of the dishes they’ve laid out on the counter. He points to chiles rellenos and homemade tortillas and a bowl of guacamole. Lime juice, he offers, helps to keep the avocados in his guacamole from browning. It’s then that Martha, Deanna’s friend, counters that sour cream actually works better.

Antoni from 'Queer Eye' putting his hand on Deanna's shoulder as they both smile and laugh.
Deanna and Antoni on ‘Queer Eye’ (Season 4, Episode 6).

He practically cheers in response.

It’s not the first time that Antoni has entered the put-cream-in-your-guacamole wrestling ring. During the show’s early days, he came under fire for suggesting a swirl of Greek yogurt in guacamole would lend the dip some tang and extra smoothness. Martha goes one step further, claiming that the added sour cream also helps to keep the spread greener for longer.

Could this be the case? Apparently, Martha Stewart’s done it. Meanwhile, this Medium article recommends sour cream, Mexican crema, or even cream cheese as ingredients that can help prevent guacamole from oxidizing and turning brown, in addition to adding some much welcome creaminess. Some other recipes differentiate between guacamole and guacamole cream, as if the addition of sour cream changes the label of the final product.

So where do we stand? Guacamole, like so many dishes, is one that benefits from a million iterations, each one special to its maker. There’s something to be said for maintaining tradition, especially in the face of change. But what if tradition for you means a revelation for another?

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