What Is Guacamole?

Ripe Hass avocadoes, lime juice, and salt — purists will argue that's all anybody needs to make a good guacamole. Mash these ingredients together in a bowl to a smooth consistency and that's pretty much it. Diced tomato, onion, tomatillos, and jalapeños are welcome additions, as is chopped cilantro. Anything beyond that though, is probably experimental.

And that's the best part about this popular party food — there are so many ways to get creative. Whether you like your guacamole with a little roasted garlic, some tropical fruit, fresh seafood, or maybe even blue cheese (yikes!), the sky really is the limit. Next time there's a party, set up a guacamole spread with an array of salsas and chips. Just remember — some people like it chunky, others might like it smooth, and some people just like it both ways. (Photo courtesy of Romulo Yanes)

But it's always best to start with the basics. If you've never worked with avocadoes before, it helps to know, first of all, how to get the meat of the shell! (No avos means no guac, and no guac means no party. Sad day.)

Photo courtesy of flickr/HarmonyRae)

Quickly scoop out the flesh using a small spoon. Take the seedless half and trace all the way around the edges where the flesh meets the shell, and scoop it out. Now, for the seeded half — take a large knife and carefully aim for the seed. Give it a good whack, and the knife should stick to the seed. Pry the seed away from the flesh with a slight twisting motion. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon as before. This is the most important part: Immediately squeeze lime or lemon juice over the meat to keep it from oxidizing and turning brown.

There you have it. Fresh, ripe avocado ready for whatever your heart desires.

Click here to see the 6 Twists on Guacamole Story.

Click here to see Rick Bayless' Guacamole with Custom Garnishes Recipe.