Watch out — that guacamole at your favorite restaurant might be something else: it might not be made with avocado.
Rising prices for the alligator pear have reportedly led some taqueros to use calabacita – a Mexican squash similar to zucchini – to make the national dip.
Poor harvests, high demand and cartel control in parts of Michoacán, Mexico’s avocado heartland, have caused prices for the fruit to soar to as high as 100 pesos (US $5.25) per kilo in recent weeks. Some analysts predict that the price could go as high as 130 pesos per kilo in the not too distant future.
But rather than cough up the exorbitant price, or remove guacamole from their tables, some chefs have allegedly turned to calabacitas.
According to a YouTube video posted on the website of Mexico City magazine Chilango – which first reported the fake guacamole story – to make the dip out of the zucchini-like squash the vegetable is first boiled and then mixed with green tomatoes, cilantro and chiles before being pureed into a creamy, smooth consistency.
Some taco lovers say that telling the difference between a calabacita guac and the real deal isn’t as easy as it might sound.
“The scariest part is that it tastes almost exactly like your standard taquería guacamole: bright, spicy, rich and very satisfying,” said Javier Cabral, editor of news and culture website L.A. Taco and associate producer of the Netflix series Taco Chronicles.
“It almost fooled me,” he added.
It’s not just Mexicans who are suffering from the surge in avocado prices – restaurants in the United States are also feeling the pinch.
As a result, Chipotle Mexican Grill, a chain of fast casual restaurants, is looking beyond Mexico for new sources of supply for avocados.
“The whole country seems to be in love with the avocado,” CEO Brian Niccol told Bloomberg.
“We’re continuing to work in our supply chain to hopefully not have such big [price] swings,” he added.
For now, the chain still sources most of its avocados from Mexico, the world’s largest producer, but according to Niccol, Chipotle is looking at purchasing greater quantities of the fruit from California, Chile, Peru and Colombia.
“We’re starting to really reach out to folks in all these different places that are really starting to develop a stronger system to provide great avocados,” he said.