Since Bubble Child is my baby, and cooking for food allergies is my passion, it tends to come up in conversation a lot, regardless of whether or not this is the intention. I have found a few things remarkable about these exchanges:
1. Pretty much everyone I talk to has or knows someone with at least one or more food allergies/sensitivities.
2. People have some pretty FUNKY food allergies!
(Coming from a girl with a cucumber skin and coffee allergy, this is saying a lot.)
One of the more frequent (and depressing) ones I have encountered is the avocado allergy. Yes, coffee allergies are really, really sad, too, but avocado? The California native in me finds this blasphemous to human existence. No sushi rolls with avocado? No turkey, avocado, basil sun-dired tomato sandwich with whole-grain dijon mustard? No… GUACAMOLE?!?!
Alas, dear avocado-fretters, we have a solution. Yesterday, before assisting with Chef Abigail Hitchcock’s cooking class at Camaje Bistro in Greenwich Village, I stopped in for a quick bite at this awesome Jamaican restaurant, Miss Lily’s. We are talking LEGIT Jamaican food, with things like Callaloo and Cassava on the menu. They even serve real Ginger Brew imported all the way from the island.
One of the appetizers was a platter of plantain chips with this thing called “ackee”. I love my plantain chips, so immediately inquired what this ackee dip business was all about. “It’s like guacamole,” the server replied. SOLD! to the Bubble Child on the right.
Ackee, when boiled and mashed up, has an incredibly creamy consistency, like that of avocado, and absorbs the flavors of the other herbs and garnishes of the dish, also like avocado. This dip was incredible, and a really amazing substitution for avocados.
To prepare ackee dip, boil the fruit in water for about 5-10 minutes, or until soft, remove from heat, pit, skin, and mash the contents. Mix with chopped garlic, lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, and refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until cold. Then mix in some chopped tomatoes and cilantro, and you’ve got yourself some guac!