Holy Guacamole, That’s Some Spicy Math!

Holy Guacamole, That’s Some Spicy Math!

May 2, 2014

While Cinco de Mayo is a blip on the Mexican calendar, it’s become a well-known celebration of Mexican-American culture in the United States. Cinco de Mayo is a great day to celebrate math, too–there’s a number right in its name! My kids like to count in Spanish: uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez! You can make up a fun math song to learn to count in a new language.

When throwing a Cinco de Mayo fiesta, try making some homemade guacamole!

Guacamole is a fairly simple dish that begins with a good ripe avocado. Avocado prices vary year to year so pricing this dish can be tricky for restaurant owners. Here’s a cool challenge for advanced kids that let’s you predict the cost of avocados and set the menu price,

You will want at least a half an avocado per person (one avocado for every two people). That means my family of six will need three avocados! How many will yours need?

Beyond the avocados, you can prepare this dish to your taste. Here’s the recipe my family likes:

Ingredients:

* 3 ripe avocados

* 1 lime

* 1/4 cup diced tomatoes (I prefer sun-dried tomatoes but fresh is more traditional)

* 1/4 cup diced red onion

* 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

* 1 tsp finely chopped garlic

* 1/4 tsp salt

* 2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeño pepper (none if the kids are joining us)

Directions:

1. Cut avocados in half and remove pit. Scoop out the avocado flesh and squeeze the lime over the avocado. Let sit while chopping the other ingredients.

2. Mash the avocado. If you have a mortar and pestle, you can do this the traditional way. Otherwise, the convex side of the spoon will work, too! If you prefer super smooth guacamole, you can also run it through a food processor but don’t tell your abuelita.

3. Fold in the other ingredients to taste.

If you did the “guacamole math” and decided it was cheaper to buy prepared guacamole than to make your own, you can still make a batch of chips!

Cut tortillas into various shapes triangles, squares, or circles (hint: use a cookie cutter), brush with vegetable oil, and bake them at 350 degrees until they crisp (check at 5 minutes and then again every minute…if your tortilla chips took 8 minutes, how many times did you check?). You can even make scoops by baking circular tortillas over the bottom of a mini muffin tin.

Which shape holds the guacamole the best?

If you are feeling brave, try tasting a few peppers that fall at different ranges on the Scoville Scale. How much hotter is a cayenne pepper than a jalapeño pepper or a poblano pepper?

How else could you measure the hotness of a pepper? We like to see how many seconds we can go without reaching for a glass of milk (milk neutralizes the acidity of spicy food better than water does).

Beyond guacamole, you can make papel picado cut paper banners to create a festive atmosphere and study symmetry and patterns.

Going out to a restaurante? This fun taco spinner game won’t spoil your appetite and it helps introduce the idea of probability.

Now, I leave you with a joke:  How many molecules in a bowl of guacamole?

Avacado’s Number.

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Candace Lindemann

Candace Lindemann, of Naturally Educational, is a nationally recognized and quoted educational expert and published children's writer who holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education,

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