Thank goodness for Twitter-powered outrage. How else would we know just how horribly offensive the combination of peas and avocados is?
The apparently misguided pairing was exposed for all its perversity Wednesday, when The New York Times urged the world to add peas — peas, I tell you! — to guacamole. Take a moment with that.
I know. I hear you. A culinary outrage. Not since Paula Deen lost her Food Network throne has Twitter knotted itself into such a kerfuffle over food. Well, maybe when Gwyneth Paltrow tried to live on a food stamp budget. And maybe when McDonald's monopolized the french fry game at the 2012 Olympics. ...
OK, so Twitter outrage isn't a great barometer. But kerfuff the netizens certainly did. Even President Barack Obama joined the online cacophony, tweeting out: "respect the nyt, but not buying peas in guac."
The discussion moved quickly from there. Helpful foodies with fiery tweets offered their own takes on the idea. One suggested that the best way to make pea guacamole is to throw the peas in the trash. Others wondered whether The New York Times should consider additional unexpected combinations with avocados, such as broken glass and shell casings.
Because, again ... we're talking peas. And avocados.
And The Times was taking heat for a recipe that wasn't even its own. That distasteful honor belongs to Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the chef de cuisine of his ABC Cocina restaurant in New York City, Ian Coogan.
But damn the torpedoes and flame on! The food world spared no rod with a pea-guac messenger.
Or ... or maybe we could take a deep breath? The recipe that enflamed the Internet actually wasn't all that original. Variations on the theme have popped up on restaurant menus and the web for years. English celebrity chef Nigella Lawson was pushing a pea-guac-topped canape nearly 10 years ago. In fact, The Associated Press shared Lawson's recipe on the wire. Because it was crazy delicious. Because sometimes new and unorthodox is kind of yummy.
But in an effort to dive a little deeper into this outrage and give the social media world something to chew on (and, it would seem, spit out in disgust), I asked around: Any other guacamole add-ins somehow deserving of being vilified? Oh, indeed! And in the interest of efficiency of flame wars, I've included the chefs' Twitter user names.
"I'm a big fan of the addition of crunchy and salty 'chapulines,' traditional to Oaxacan cooking... Yep. Roasted spicy grasshoppers!!!" Mario Batali (@MarioBatali) said via email.
Rick Bayless arguably has a bit more skin in this game. As one of the country's most respected voices in Mexican food, he knows his way around a molcajete. He even wrote an entire book dedicated to unusual guacamoles, "Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks."
"In that book, the versions I dream about are the one with toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds, the one with brown butter, porcini and crab (!!), and the one with strawberries and habanero," Bayless (@Rick_Bayless) said in an email. Oh, and when he makes pea guac, he likes to top it with pea tendrils.
But if you thought peas and their appendages were outrageous, Ludo Lefebvre can top it. Sure, the Los Angeles restaurateur and judge on ABC's "The Taste" has dabbled with what he calls "peamole." But the recipe that made it into his cookbook, "LudoBites," actually contains neither peas nor avocados. He calls it "Brocamole." Just go ahead and tease that one out.
But one at least one chef took the opportunity to elevate the argument to a whole different level and remind us of our roots as Americans.
"I am touched by the traditionalist adherence of our president, but this is one issue that I feel strongly about. Add whatever you want to your guac," said Hugh Acheson (@HughAcheson), a restaurateur and judge on Bravo's "Top Chef." ''This is the land of the free and the home of the culinarily brave. I just want people to cook from scratch."
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at email@example.com