Throughout the year there are holidays or events that just have to have certain kinds of produce to go along with them. For Valentine's Day, it's strawberries (a nearly impossible task by the way); for Easter, its asparagus; cherries for July 4th; and watermelon for Labor Day. The January event is football — specifically the college bowl games, the playoffs and super bowl. Football doesn't interest me much — aside from betting my mom a dollar every year over whose local team will do better (San Francisco for me, Dallas for her). The only thing football ignites in me is a professional focus on avocados and a renewed debate over who makes the "best ever" guacamole. Avocados are a great measure of how good your local produce department is because maintaining a consistent supply of fruit at the right stage of ripeness is a very demanding exercise. The challenge is to keep fruit on the shelves that is ripe enough to eat but not too ripe that it bruises (which will turn the interior black). It is for this reason that most avocado displays are shallow and the fruit still firm to the touch. I like to buy my avocados firm to keep from having to cut out bruises, so I try to get mine a few days before I need them. To finish ripening at home I will place them in a bowl with any type of citrus or bananas. Both release ethylene gas which helps the avocado ripen. If you buy a lot of avocados at one time, make sure you check on them every day. Avocados generate a lot of heat when ripening so the fruit at the bottom of the bowl will ripen faster than the fruit at the top. My favorite way of making guacamole takes some doing and last year around this time when I posted my "best ever" recipe, I asked for folks to submit their favorite and got quite a few responses. Most were simpler (and similar) and all sounded delicious. The most common ingredients were onions (red), lime juice, garlic, cilantro and tomatoes (with spices like cumin and chili powder showing up a lot as well). There were also some inventive uses for avocados and off-the-wall recipes that we tried here at the office. One version replaced cilantro with parsley, lime juice with red wine vinegar, and added crumbled feta cheese - it sounds really strange but was actually quite good. Another suggestion was to simply slice an avocado in half, remove the seed, and slice a little off of the round bottom of each half so they will stand up on a plate without rolling to one side. You then fill the hole left after removing the seed with your favorite dressing - I've been filling it with salsa and serving it with my breakfast. My new favorite recipe has changed only a little - I removed the sour cream to satisfy the purists. Here's the recipe for a big bowl of my current "best ever" guacamole: James' Best Ever Guacamole 3-4 medium avocadoes (ripe) 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes (grape or regular variety, sliced into small pieces) 1/4 red onion (finely chopped) 1 hot pepper (I like Anaheim or jalapeño, seeds removed and finely chopped) 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (or more to taste) 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste) Juice of 1 lime Cilantro to taste (or not if you don't like it) Salt and pepper to taste Combine all the ingredients except the tomatoes. Mash first with a fork (or potato masher) and then blend with a firm whisk. Taste and correct the seasoning and then fold in the tomatoes at the end so they will be intact. Enjoy! I love this recipe, but now I believe there are lots of "best ever" ways to make guacamole. What's your Best Ever Guacamole or avocado dish?