Avocado sandwiches or pan con aguacate are a typically Dominican snack. The classic version is made with a pan de agua (the ubiquitous Dominican bread roll) sliced in half and filled with scoops or slices of avocado. There are varying schools of thought: some mash the avocado onto the bread with a fork, others leave the chunks intact and just squeeze it all together. Many people may find avocado and bread a little bland on their own so how about adding some salt, or a squeeze of lemon? A dash of chili sauce even? Some finely chopped onions, if you have no plans for the rest of the evening, or tomato slices?
That’s the beauty of it. Every person has his or her own particular version. There are probably as many “recipes” for pan con aguacate as there are Dominicans!
Pan con aguacate can be a very humble snack, often enjoyed by people from the poorest sectors of society. I mentioned in a previous article that the avocado, an exotic delicacy sold at fancy prices in other parts of the world is a very inexpensive food in season in the Dominican Republic. Many people have access to an avocado tree and don’t have to pay a chele. I have been told that health workers in very poor communities observe that children’s nutritional levels show a marked improvement when protein-rich foods that are freely available, such as avocados, are in season.
Whether you are rich or poor or something in between, pan con aguacate is one of the easiest snacks you can rustle up when there is not much else available, or you are too tired or uninspired to make a meal. The avocado’s nutritional qualities combined with the bread mean that few people remain unsatisfied after indulging, so to speak.
Despite this, pan con aguacate is looked down on by some people. This could be due to its humble associations but I also suspect this happens because there is simply no dignified way to eat it. The avocado will always squelch out of the sides of the sandwich and adhere itself to your paws and chin.
But worry not, help is at hand. The Aunties have come to the rescue again! Aunt Clara says she has devised a system where pan con aguacate can be eaten in a genteel manner in the politest company. Could this be the next big thing to hit the gourmet bistros of the world’s most elegant capitals? I’ll leave it to her to provide you with the details…
- Juice of a lime or 1 tablespoon of fruit vinegar
- 1/2 red bell pepper cut into small cubes (optional)
- 1/2 small red onion cut into small cubes (optional)
- 2 mini-baguettes cut into thirds or 6 french rolls cut into halves
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 avocados
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper (or more, to taste)
Mix the lime juice, pepper and onion. Set aside.
Hollow out the bread a bit by removing some of the soft bread in the center. Brush the bread with the olive oil and toast.
Peel and dice the avocados and mix with the onions and pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top the bread with this mix.