Holy Guacamole!

It’s crazy how fast time goes by when life becomes so busy you lose count of the days.  In just a blink of an eye, March is here, Spring has begun and I am on my way to Shanghai.  I can’t begin to express the utter excitement I am feeling now. I realize the older I become, the more I want to learn about the culture that I come from.

I realize the beauty of my original home, it seems that every time  I go back I grow to love it more and more.  I definitely had an adverse reaction when I went for the first time when I was 12.  Maybe it was the “awkward teenager” stage where everything sucks but I thought Shanghai was dirty, stinky and the people were rude, especially in traffic.  My second time I went back with my mom when I was a freshman in college.  I became much more immersed in the culture and felt more comfortable just being around the city.  I also randomly bumped into one of my close friends David (Hey Da ge!), while I was shopping with my mother in Cheng Huang Miao.  Funny story is, neither of us knew we would be in Shanghai then — all I heard was a familiar voice say “Joy??” The minute I saw him I started screaming and hitting him with excitement (his mother probably thought I was crazy) but I just couldn’t believe my eyes!  Truly, what a small world!!   We later met up and went to a bar, and at the time I felt super cool being  able to roam the city at night (by myself!), not only hanging out with people my age but being able to drink at bars (the drinking age was 18).  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a Paris Hilton kind of night but we definitely had our fun dancing to ridiculously mixed American pop music and laughing at all the awkward dance moves.

I have a feeling though, this trip will be one of the best ones yet.  I will be spending a lot of time in Shanghai, eating my way through the city, shopping until Collin cuts me off and learning more about where I originally come from.   I feel as I reach my mid 20s I have a sudden struggle for a sense of identity — a groove in life that I can fit in, understand and be comfortable.  As my friend puts it, your mid to late 20s is the “Junior High of Adulthood” and it’s true.  My god is it confusing sometimes.

All throughout college I felt completely lost.  I hated my major, I didn’t enjoy the stupid prerequisite classes, yet for some reason I felt I had to stick to it.  And I realize now, it’s because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents.  I mean they are the two people I look up the most to, all I’ve ever wanted to do in life was to make them proud and happy.  They had held my hand tightly until I left for college and the entire transition was confusing.  It wasn’t until I finally graduated, it dawned on me– What am I doing here? Am I really about to commit 8 years of my life doing something I’m not sure I even like? AM I CRAZY?!!!

I think finally telling my parents that I wanted to pursue my passion in food, was one of the scariest moments of my life.  I thought the world was going to explode.  Thankfully, it didn’t.  And yes, they were disappointed.  But finally being able to stand up to them and make such a major decision in my life has really set me free.  One of the most important things I’ve recognized is that my parents are human (not superheroes like I thought) — they make mistakes, they don’t necessarily have all the right answers, and all they ever want is the best for their child.

I really have Collin to thank for it.  He was the one who pushed me to pursue my passions in life: Art and Food.  Life offers you all the right elements to become everything you’ve ever wanted to be and it’s up to you to make use of the opportunities that are presented to you.  My father’s strong passion for photography and my mother’s love for food has naturally placed me in the spot that I’m in today.  I could eat, shoot and write about food for the rest of my life, and not have it feel like work.  Perhaps it’s not the practical route in life, but I never thought life was meant to be easy.

I am packed and ready to go for Shanghai — I am eager to see my relatives and my grandma and I can hardly wait to be immersed in the crazy intense beautiful culture that is Shanghai.  Collin has stocked his bag full of antibiotics, anti and pro diarrheals, all topped off with a huge bottle of antacids.  I hope China will be good to him :) .  For the 10 days I’ll be there I will:

  • Take engagement pictures
  • Make Collin a couple suits
  • Visit Wu Xi where my grandparents are originally from
  • Make my wedding gown
  • Go shopping for gifts
  • Visit Hang Zhou and see Xi Hu and visit tea plantations
  • Hug and kiss grandma every day :)
  • Eat, eat and oh yeah more eating…
  • A ferry tour at night of Wan Po River
  • Hitting up a couple local bars at night
  • Checking out and eating famous soup dumplings at Cheng Huang Miao
  • And too many other activities that my mom made me write down but I’m too lazy to type out, ha!

Since Shanghai probably won’t have Guacamole, I thought this would be a nice, simple recipe to share.  No cooking necessary, only six ingredients and it only takes like 10 minutes to make! The best part is, everyone freaking loves guacamole, so this makes the perfect pot luck item or perfect dinner appetizer or heck even during sports games and intense wrestling matches.  I uncontrollably yell “HOLY GUACAMOLE” every time I do a taste test when I make a batch of this stuff — partially because I am very silly but mostly because it’s so gosh darn good yall!  Over and out.

Ingredients for (Holy)Guacamole:

(serves 4-5)

  • 3 ripe avocados, pitted and skin removed
  • 2 ripe roma tomatoes, small diced
  • a handful of cilantro, cleaned and finely chopped (omit if you do not like cilantro)
  • 1/2 medium purple onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 lime, juice only
  • 1 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a mortar and pestle or large bowl.  If you do not own a mortar and pestle you can mash the avocados with a fork or potato masher.  Thoroughly mix the ingredients — if it needs more acid add more lime, a little at a time, same goes for salt.  Place in large bowl and serve with tortilla chips.  If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate.

You can also use Guacamole on sandwiches, salads, meats and use it for dips for pita wedges, pretzels, crackers, etc.  I actually use guacamole to make my chicken sandwiches so it omits the mayo — avocado has a nice creamy consistency that contains heart-healthy monosaturated fats so its a lot better for you.


  1. Posted 18 Mar ’10 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Nice chunky guacamole and great pix as always! I like what you said about eating your way through Shanghai LOL! We certainly love our food. Enjoy your trip and take lots of great pix.

    Please check my comment on your meatballs post.

  2. Posted 18 Mar ’10 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Joy, thanks for the easy recipe. I love anything with avocado. Seeing those pictures make me wish it’s avocado season. I’ve been in that stage where my parents didn’t want to work anywhere else after college except in our family business. It’s really a Chinese tradition in the Philippines. It took me long to break free. Until today, I’m still finding my way but at least I know I love food and cooking, just like you do. I’m glad you found your passion and it shows on this blog which is full of joy and life. Enjoy your trip to China. Take care to Collin too. I’m sure China will be nice to him.

  3. Posted 18 Mar ’10 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    I love the hug and kiss grandma everyday part of your list! Boy I am excited for you! Is it your first time to visit China?

    I went home to the Philippines after 9 years last year and I spent most of my time with my parents in my hometown… and I loved every minute of it… I grew up there so I knew how it was but for you and Collin, I’m sure it will be an adventure… just keep an open mind and have fun! I can’t wait to see your pictures and stories… enjoy and have a safe trip!

  4. Posted 18 Mar ’10 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Good for you, Joy, for finding and following your passions as early as you are – I am a few years your senior and just figuring it out myself. You will do well, your photography is breathtaking.

  5. Posted 18 Mar ’10 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    “junior high of adulthood” – i had never heard that before and i love it! have an amazing trip.

  6. Posted 18 Mar ’10 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed reading this Joy :) I’m also in my mid twenties, over here we call it a mid-mid-life crisis! :p My sister was in Shanghai a couple of years ago and hasn’t stopped talking about it since, have a wonderful time!!! :)

  7. Posted 18 Mar ’10 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Great post Joy. I think we totally agree with you that you should pursue your passion. I just finished reading the book Crush it! by Gary V.

    If you haven’t read it you should. It will help you live out your passion.

    Have a safe trip to China.

  8. Posted 18 Mar ’10 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Have fun in shanghai lovely :)

  9. funkydrew
    Posted 18 Mar ’10 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    love guacamole… love this recipe :)

  10. Posted 18 Mar ’10 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I was in Shanghai and other places near Shanghai two years ago. I love the food especially 小龙包, Nanjing 咸水鸭,Hanzhou 东波肉 and of course Wuxi排骨.
    Have fun in Shanghai.

  11. Posted 19 Mar ’10 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    the last and the first time i went to SH was long time ago when Xin Tian Di had just newly developed. and i was very impressed how sophisticated and modern this city is! and i’ve always wanted to go there again just for the food. too bad now i moved to canada. go back to asia seems so much complicated than when i was going from hk. not to mention being with a baby now……anyway enjoy your trip. can’t wait to see your engagement photos….also your wedding ones! :)

  12. Posted 19 Mar ’10 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I hope you are able to enjoy MANY xiao long bao while in Shanghai. You might check out Nanxiang Bun Shop (Old City). Or better yet, Yuyuan Zhi Lu for meishi jie.

    Also hunt down Meiyuancun for the second floor delights. If Lao Banzhai is still there check it out, too. And Shanghai Uncle for contemporary dishes.

    Enjoy and report often!

  13. Posted 19 Mar ’10 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I love guacamole! My favorite comfort food. And your photos are absolutely fantastic! Have a great trip!!

  14. Posted 19 Mar ’10 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see a true guacamole an no weird ingredients that are not used in Mexico. So, nice to see that you even took time to get a mortar to crush it just like they do it in Mexico. Thanks for sharing! Oh, I always add a little more cilantro than most people just because I don’t really like the raw flavor of onion but I NEED the onion flavor to have a real guacamole experience :)

  15. Prairie
    Posted 19 Mar ’10 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Even better than a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich is a bacon-tomato-guacamole sandwich.

  16. Posted 19 Mar ’10 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to a BBQ this VERY afternoon and I am taking this. Wow. I can already taste it! Enjoy Shanghai!

  17. Posted 20 Mar ’10 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    Love reading your post, Joy. It’s always interesting to think and write how we grew up and it’s always so heart warming to read of your love towards your parents and knowing your roots. I’m really glad to know you have found your passion in life and REALLY excited to know you are getting married soon……yeah!! :D I can’t wait to see all your beautiful wedding photos. Your visit to Shanghai this time must be your best …. with your wedding plans and list to do. To you and Collin, have a great time there! Love your guacamole…..simple and looks very delicious. Have a fun weekend, Joy! :D

  18. Posted 20 Mar ’10 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I can totally resonate with what you’ve written about re-discovering the beauty of home-countries. I admit that I’ve never truly learnt to appreciate my hometown until I moved away and lived abroad for some time. All of a sudden, those sights and sounds, the food, the people, etc. that you were accustomed to growing up (and may not necessarily appreciate back then) become so much more intriguing and captivating!
    I’m certain you will enjoy your trip to Shanghai. I still remember the scrumptious Wuxi Phai-Ku (spareribs)!
    I’ll be adding you to my Reader. Have fun and Congrats on making FoodBuzz’s Top9 today!!

  19. Posted 21 Mar ’10 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    How could I have missed your site? I was drooling over your photos! I live in Texas at the moment (well for the past 25 years!) and have loved guacamole forever! Wishing you a lovely time in Shangai (my bro lives in Singapore and goes to China all the time and loves it) and a safe trip.

  20. Posted 22 Mar ’10 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    this looks great my boyfriend just bought a new mortar and pester (spelling??) so i can make it correctly! :O)

  21. Posted 23 Mar ’10 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I totally get what you’re saying. And I’m really glad that as we get older, we come to understand our own culture more. I love that I’m discovering and re-discovering things especially frm a anglofied perspective now because I come to appreciate it all so much more. I wouldn’t treasure my heritage as much if I’d just remained in that teenage bubble world.
    Your guacamole looks very yum and fresh. I should start making my own too!

  22. Posted 24 Mar ’10 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you finally found your way in and that’s good news! I’m sure your parents would be very happy for you, their daughter has finally grown up and acted like one too! hehe… Sounds like you’ve everything planned out well. Hope you’ll enjoy every moment back there especially with Collin…. the pre-honeymoon trip! haha…. Can’t wait to see those photos! Yeah, why not taking your wedding pictures over at SH! However, your Guacamore sounds delicious and your first picture is stunning!
    p/s I’ve lost your mail, Joy! So sorry! Please do mail me your add again. OK! Thanks.

  23. Posted 28 Mar ’10 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    J – You have so much going for you, and the twenties are a confusing time, it will all sort out. Trust me it will…

    I hope you have an amazing time in Shanghai, your schedule looks full.

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