The Secret Life of Avocados
February 23, 2011
The charismatic old woman I lived with for a month in Mexico City used to be appalled at how many avocados I ate in a week. (C'mon—it was 10 pesos a kilo.)
I am prouder to say I have an avocado tree in my backyard than I am of anything I have accomplished professionally or personally—even if it's more of a bush.
I would spend hours in my grandparents' avocado tree as a kid; as I grew older, a dream grew along with my pile of dark green treasures: selling avocados at the Old Monterey Farmers Market. While the certification process proved unpalatable, I do continue to eat avocado alone with a little salt, chop it on salads and smear it on toast, as I did this morning with a little hummus and sprouts.
I believe any attempt at a perfect sandwich should include avocado. The other day I tried an avocado boba, even though tapioca balls don't really do it for me.
The point is this: I love avocado, and thought I knew it well. At least until today.
Turns out it means testicle in Aztec because they believed it boosted sexual powers so mightily that they kept virgins out of sight during harvest. In Brazil, they make sherbet with it; in the Philippines, a chilled mash with cream and sugar. Its commercialization, though, is rooted down the 101 in Santa Barbara, Calif.
It's there that our alternative newsweekly cousins at the Santa Barbara Independent crafted a cover story that granted me those understandings.
If you love avocado like me, it's required reading. If you don't, but still live in California, where it's massive business, then it's worth your time.
The piece is called Avocado Uncovered: Inside California's $320 Million Avocado Industry. Buen provecho.