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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Today, is Cinco de Mayo, and Dan Pashman, host of the podcast The Sporkful, has been doing a little thinking about this holiday. He joins us now. Hey, Dan.

DAN PASHMAN: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: OK. So, Cinco de Mayo. Can you remind us what it was historically and what it has become today?

PASHMAN: Well, technically, it commemorates the battle of Puebla, but, you know, it's a pretty small holiday in Mexico. Here in the U.S., it's sort of like a Mexican St. Patrick's Day. It's a celebration of Mexican-American heritage, and in some quarters it's also just an excuse for a party.

MARTIN: And speaking of a party, of course, that involves a lot of drinking and eating and delicious things like guacamole, which is a personal favorite of mine. You've been doing some in-depth research on this particular subject.

PASHMAN: Well, I talked to Lee Frank. He's the coauthor of the new book "Ultimate Nachos: From Nachos and Guacamole to Salsas and Cocktails." He says the key to great guacamole is to make it fresh and keep it simple.

MARTIN: All right. So, the other key elements to guacamole, I think, is the chip. What are the best practices for dipping, because it can be kind of a dangerous game. I mean, chips are fragile things. They break.

PASHMAN: They sure do. I talked to Isaac Gaetz. He's a structural engineer in Chicago, and he addressed a timeless concern. You know, when you're working with standard triangular chips, you can either hold one point and dip two points or you can hold a straight edge and dip one point. Now, it's tempting to dip two points, I know, because that gives you a wider berth for the dip. But Isaac says don't do it. That puts too much strain on the chip and it makes it break. He also says that instead of flat triangles, you should look for ones with a bending, undulating shape.

ISAAC GAETZ: So, it's kind of like a dome shape. It's a natural, very strong shape in compression is an arch, and then a 3-D arch is a dome. All the elements are able to take that load, work together and kind of just pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing all the way down to wherever they're supported.

MARTIN: All right. So, that's the challenge of the flat chip. What about the scoop chip?

PASHMAN: I like them. You know, they're not perfect but I appreciate the attempt at innovation. What do you think?

MARTIN: Yeah, I think they're a complete disgrace. I mean, this is for total amateurs who are not willing to brave the fragility of the chip-in-dip moment.

PASHMAN: Well, we're learning a lot about you here, Rachel. But I would argue that you're arguing now against societal progress. I mean, why should we get messy if we have the technology to stay clean? Plus, you just heard our engineer say that domes are really strong. And what is a scoop but an upside-down dome.

MARTIN: Whoa.

PASHMAN: That's right. So, I present to you know my new it's-not-a-scoop-it's-a-dome technique for chip and guacamole consumption. All right. Take the scoop chip, put it on the tip of your pointer finger upside down like a thimble. Brace it with your thumb, run it through all the guac you desire and it will not break.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Dan Pashman. He's the host of The Sporkful podcast. Hey, Dan, thanks so much.

PASHMAN: Thank you, Rachel.

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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