I've always wanted to be an expert at making guacamole. In my deep-seeded dreams for myself, I am that woman who throws a lovely, Mexican-food dinner party, featuring a simple batch of guacamole that blows everyone's minds. I could not make this dream come true, though, because I was too scared to make any. When I lived in Texas, I was on this guacamole high horse and didn't want to use a recipe. So twice I made batches that were actually bad -- one had too much lime juice; the other, too much onion. In Mexico City, I started making a kind of fast-food version of guac that combined avocados and Herdez salsa verde. It's actually pretty good, but I felt a little ashamed to serve fast-food guac with something like homemade hibiscus-flower quesadillas. Then about a month ago, I took a class on how to prepare salsas. We learned that the base of all guac is a pico de gallo -- the combo of onion, cilantro, tomato and serrano chiles. You grind these things together in the molcajete and then add avocados. Top the whole thing with a few squirts of lime juice. That's it. Doneskis. I still didn't have enough confidence to try it on my own, however, until I spent two hours seasoning my metate. Using just my two hands and a grinding stone, I had turned dried corn and beans into dust. Making guacamole? Pffft. That's puny work. About three weeks ago, with absolutely no nervousness at all, I used the ratios from my cooking class and whipped up a batch to accompany some quesadillas. The result was the best guacamole I'd ever made: buttery and creamy and evenly balanced, with a tang from the tomatoes. And I had made the entire thing myself. No Herdez. I've since this a few more times, including at a party attended by some French tourists. They kept coming up to me and saying, "This is so good!" It was not exactly my dinner-party vision come to life, but close enough. I felt really proud. Recipe below. Guacamole de molcajete Serves 4-ish Note: The two key elements to good guacamole are the avocados and tomatoes. In Mexico, the avocados are so buttery and spoonable, it's practically impossible to make a bad batch. (Unless you add too much lime juice and onion.) Pick soft avocados that don't feel mushy. For tomatoes, the fresher they are, the better. A molcajete, in my opinion, helps create an ideal consistency for the guacamole -- you end up with these half-ground bits of tomato and mashed onion. Plus it makes for an attractive serving bowl. If you don't have a molcajete, you can make it in any other bowl and the flavor won't differ wildly. Just make sure you chop your onions and tomatoes well. You'll notice the recipe calls for "one-quarter" of onion. This means a quarter chunk of a small onion, which is the ratio we used in my cooking class for pico de gallo. This guacamole will last a good three or four hours without turning brown. Ingredients 1/4-piece of a small onion, chopped (this equals about 1.5 oz/31 g) 1 fresh roma tomato, chopped 1 serrano chile, seeded or not (depending on how hot you like it), and chopped 2 lbs/900 g avocados, halved and pitted 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves Juice of 1 lime salt Add the onion, tomato and serrano to the molcajete, along with some salt to taste. Grind them together until the tomato bits have fallen apart slightly, and the mixture looks wet and smells aromatic. Spoon the avocados into the molcajete and grind some more, until the mixture is mostly smooth, with a few avocado chunks here and there. (I love, love chunky guac.) Add your cilantro and lime juice, and a little more salt. Stir to taste. Add more salt and lime juice if needed. Serve with tortilla chips.