Saudade or how to make an Ecuadorian avocado salad

Sunday, February 14, 2021 - 7:24pm

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Graphic Courtesy of Zoe Zhang

Much of what has been passed down to me has gone unwritten. It’s been demonstrated over and over again by my family, through actions, whispers or demands. In an effort to preserve what I have inherited, I decided to write it all down. So today, on February 9 at 2:00 am, I’m going to teach you how to make an Ecuadorian-style avocado salad. 

For this dish, you will need:

  • Three Avocados 

  • Three Limes

  • Two Large Tomatoes

  • One Red Onion

  • Kale

  • Olive Oil

  • Brown Sugar

  • Salt

It’s important that the avocados are still firm, so you can press heavily against the peel and make a small indent. If still too unripe, place the avocados in a paper bag the night before. 

Preparations:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉

  2. Juice three limes

Directions:

  1. Massage the kale for 1-2 minutes. Gently tear into smaller pieces and coat with olive oil and salt. Place onto a cookie sheet and toss it into the oven for 15-20 minutes.

  2. On a medium-sized cutting board, cut the avocados into small cubes discarding the peel and all, but keep one of the avocado’s seeds because your Coco always said that’s what keeps the salad fresh. The avocado seed will be placed in a small bowl with the cubes in order to prevent browning. 

  3. Cut the tomatoes into long slices and place them in the same bowl as the avocados. 

  4. Cut the onions into thin, vertical slices, placing your forefinger on top of the knife like your Tia taught you. Put the onions into a small pot and fill it with enough water to just skim the onions. Place the pot onto the stove top on medium.

  5. Sprinkle two pinches of brown sugar into the mixture, falling softly into the water like the white flurries outside his window that one morning.

  6. This is the tricky part nobody prepares you for. Dr. Gigi calls it instinct, when you know to stop watching as the water around the onions begins to heat and then boils, bubbling over. When you know to stop thinking about love or Valentine’s Day or him: instinct. Know not to think about what you could have had or what you lost. It’s important not to think about it all. Or how he always loved the snow that’s now blanketing the trees outside of the windows of your kitchen, or about the warm feeling of his hands against your skin and how goddamn cold your kitchen is, or how much you wish he was here in your kitchen because it would mean that things weren’t over and that you could be together again and just be. Don’t think. Watch as steam pours over the top of the pot and your eyes go blurry as tears begin to spill over at the same time the water fights against the heat, popping and spitting violently. And then you can’t breathe. Such a sharp painful thing and your stomach begins to twist and turn, because how can you eat when your heart is shooting out of your chest and you feel like you’re going to vomit it out on the linoleum tiles of your kitchen floor and then you find yourself pressed against those very same tiles, trying to make sense of these thoughts that won’t, or can’t, stop circling through your head over and over and over. Continue to let the onions boil.

  7. Take the kale out of the oven, which should be crispy and flaky at this point.

  8. Keep the onions in the boiling pot until they turn a light pink and limp in texture. 

  9. Place the onions in a bowl and pour the lime juice on top. Sprinkle two pinches of brown sugar. Es química, as Papi would explain to you, it’s chemistry. You have to keep the acidic things together till the last minute. Let the avocado, brown sugar and lime juice mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.

  10. Pour a generous amount of olive oil into the bowl containing the tomatoes and avocados. 

  11. Mix the two bowls together, taking out the avocado seed.

  12. Rest the kale chips along the top of your salad and then we’re done. 

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