Look at that avocado. Really, do I need to write anything else?
I heart avocados. I realize that using heart as a verb in that sentence leaves me sounding like a seventh-grade girl from Southern California. Ah well. I don’t mind. Avocados do that to me.
In the backyard of the house where my family lived for most of my childhood, an avocado tree loomed over the dry dirt we stamped down with our feet. The pomegranate tree I wrote about in my book lived by the patio. But the avocado tree stood as the centerpiece of everything around it: pyracantha bushes; eucalyptus trees; and the remnants of the tiny replicas of Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm that my brother and I made out of mud. The tree arched to the smog-covered sky, two twin trunks that formed a broad V. One of those years, my brother whacked the heck out of the base of the trunk with a croquet mallet, which left a permanent dent in the poor tree. But the fat black fruits that rained down in the summer? They never suffered.
I can’t believe now that I grew up with ripe avocados in my own backyard. What I wouldn’t give for that now.
If I could, I would eat an avocado every day. It’s not that I hesitate for health reasons. Contrary to popular belief, avocados are actually healthy for us. No, it’s the expense. This year in particular, avocados are higher in price than they are in fat. Have you seen the prices? Some of the pebbled-black-skinned beauties are $2 each. The California wildfires earlier this year wiped out much of that state’s avocado crop. I feel great empathy for those who lost their houses. But the avocados? That’s not fair. [And here, I want to clarify. Of course those homes are more important than the avocados. This is meant to be a disparaging comment on my own selfish thoughts, really.]
There’s nothing like the flesh of an avocado. Creamy with green exuberance, pliant as the knife cuts down, soft as pap and as comforting as mother’s milk — avocados could make me write for pages, and still never allow me to describe them right.
Sometimes, I don’t need anything else but a perfectly ripe avocado — the one that gives to the fingers but doesn’t squish — and a sprinkling of salt. For a more decadent snack, I splash a little balsamic vinegar into the cup left by the removal of the pit. That’s satisfaction.
Small slices of radishes, shreds of mozzarella, a few corn chips, some fresh fruit, and segments of avocado, splayed out on a white plate — that may be the perfect lunch.
And of course, there’s always guacamole. This afternoon, after I took the photograph you see above, the Chef and I smashed up the avocado, smooshed in some salt, mixed in some startling pico de gallo, and a dollop of sour cream. Our fingers pushed against each other, fast, in a race to finish that bowl full of green goodness.
But avocados are meant for more than simple slices and guacamole. This month, the Chef is making a kick-ass salad for the restaurant: Dungeness crab, cucumbers, avocados, and papaya, with a tarragon vinaigrette. Everyone who eats it moans.
And one of the best ice creams I have ever eaten was the one my friend Traca made last summer: avocado ice cream, from David Lebovitz’s recipe. Oh yeah. You really do have to try this.
So here’s the question for you. What can we do with avocados, beyond eating them fresh and making guacamole?