clock menu more-arrow no yes

I made the New York Times pea guacamole. The peas aren't the problem.

And now, a hot take on the New York Times' pea guacamole, which became a minor internet sensation (and way for President Obama to show he was down with Twitter) on Wednesday.

In a former life, I did a short stint as a food writer, and one of my obsessions back then was how much more sensitive people's opinions about food are than their taste buds. There are things foodies will confidently assert have huge taste differences — farmed salmon versus wild salmon, cheap red wine versus expensive red wine, canned beans versus home-cooked beans — but, in a blind test, the differences prove imperceptible.

A lot of opinions about how food tastes are actually opinions about class, culture, or identity masquerading as opinions about how food tastes.

So this morning, I woke up early and made the Times' pea guacamole, as well as a version of the same Times recipe without peas. When you actually taste the guacamoles, it's instantly clear that the peas are not the story. They're barely noticeable. When I asked various Vox staffers to taste the guacamoles, they often couldn't tell which one had peas. If they didn't know either had peas, I don't think anyone would have even considered the idea.

Which isn't to say the peas are useless. The main thing they do is make the guac a bit greener and more vivid, which is, to be sure, welcome. But it's probably not a boost that justifies shelling peas, boiling them, shocking them in an ice bath, and running them through a food processor.

The real player in the Times' guacamole recipe is something no one is talking about: the broiled jalapeno. It's a taste bully, and it dominates both the pea and non-pea versions. The most important thing the peas do, actually, is balance out the broiled jalapeno with a bit of sweetness.

Which is all to say that there's a good reason, in my opinion, to avoid the Times' guacamole recipe, but its' not the peas. It's the broiled jalapeno, which are both a pain to prepare (you need to rub the burnt skin off of them), and a distraction from the creamy avocado and sharp lime.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.