Ask a Mexican

This is a stolen photograph of a molcajete just like the one I purchased. If I get sued, I'm moving to Mexico, which might be the best thing anyway.
This is a stolen photograph of a molcajete just like the one I purchased. If I get sued, I'm moving to Mexico, which might be the best thing anyway.

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

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10 thoughts on “Ask a Mexican

  1. Ok, so according to aunt Rosita what you need is a escobeta de maiz to brush the molcajete (before and after smashing corn or rice). Hope you can find one, and then I hope it works, and then I’ll be looking forward to have a taste of your guacamole

  2. Hi Carolynn

    To “cure” your molcajete you need to apply something oily or fatty to whatever you are grinding. You can grind oil, salt and garlic, letting it sit overnight so the oil really impregnates the volcanic rock. The oil/fat will help make the surface less porous. Grind some more oil, garlic and salt the next day and discard.

    To get rid of the garlic smell you can boil your molcajete. You should be ready to prepare your guacamole after, or you may need to repeat the process.

    An “escobeta” is a natural fiber brush, it is used for cleaning the pores of your molcajete. A regular nylon bristle brush should work just fine.

    Suerte!

  3. As they said before, an escobeta is a brush, a hard brush. At least here in Mexico can be found anywhere.

    ¡Buena suerte con tu molcajete!

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