There's nothing more ubiquitous and symbolic of the current millennial zeitgeist than avocado toast. In the U.S., avocado consumption has spiked more than 300% since 2000, growing from a West Coast treat to a straight-up national obsession. Growing up in a Chilean household, in California where avocados are abundant and available year-round, my family ate avocado toast before it became a signature brunch staple (slash "before it was cool"), either for breakfast or during 'once,' or Chilean tea time. Once - a tradition inherited from the British, who settled in Chile in the 1800s - consists of a light, cold snack anytime from mid- to late-afternoon. Once offerings can range from a simple cup of tea (with milk, of course) and some toast with butter, mashed avocado, jam, pâté, cheese, cold cuts, or the sweetly addictive 'manjar,' or milk caramel. Once is awesome because who doesn't love a midday snack in between lunch and dinner?
While the origins of once are much disputed, the theory I most like goes like this:
Back in the 1800s, Chilean salt mine workers, would take a small drink and snack break midday, but were prohibited from drinking alcohol by the British mine owners. The Chilean mine workers were like, "the hell with that, we're drinking anyway, in secret." To disguise their clandestine activities, the workers used the code word 'once,' meaning 'eleven' in Spanish which just so happens to be the same number of letters in the word for their preferred drink of choice, 'aguardiente,' or fire water. Sneaky.
Anyhow, back to the toast, which also serves as a perfect cure after a night of drinking too much fire water. This version adds a bit of spice, which Chileans don't typically like, but my Mexican genes crave. I'm currently obsessed with topping my toast with the Stud mix from Supply House Peppers which contains anaheim, cayenne, cherry, chili, cowhorn, ghost, habanero, and jalapeno peppers.
Spiced Avocado Toast - Serves Two
1 whole ripe avocado
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch course salt
1 pinch black pepper
2 slices of delicious crusty bread (Pictured: Grand Central Bakery's Piccolo Como loaf)
1 tbsp butter
Crushed red peppers or chili flakes to taste
1. In a medium size bowl, mash avocado, olive oil, salt, and black pepper together with a fork until a smooth, yet chunky consistency is reached.
2. Spread butter on sliced bread and toast both sides.
(Pro-Tip: Use a cast iron grill pan to achieve perfect grill marks on bread)
3. Top bread with avocado mash then sprinkle on crushed red pepper flakes.
(Pro-Tip: Grind pepper flakes in a mortar and pestle to further refine flakes for palatability and optimal flavor release)
4. Optional: Garnish with a bit of cilantro.