Monday, August 10, 2009

The Avocado

My latest crush is on the avocado. Sorry folks, I'm too old to go ga-ga over Bollywood any more, although I must admit to drooling over Imraan Khan once in a while (I even dreamed that I came across him in a library the other day !) but mostly I've got over the oh-I-shall-die-if-I-don't meet/get-this-person phase. My obsessions have been considerably diet-related, more healthy and less sinful of late.

As I was saying, I'm in love with the fruit that is called the avocado. I watched Rachel Ray, Ina Garten and Sandra Lee use it in their cooking, especially the salads, quite frequently. Well, I thought, why not try it myself ? After all, we'll be returning home sooner or later and it's not really a native to that part of the world, so let's capitalise on its easy availability here pronto. Hence, the next time we were at the Hillsborough Farmer's Market, I spent quite some time at one particular corner of the fruit section, eyeing the heap of freshly stocked avocados. Here I came up against a curious obstacle. Most of the fruits were dark green and one-fourth of the stock a grim purplish-black. I wasn't sure which one I should be opting for and what the difference between them might be. After much brainstorming, I decided the green ones looked more palatable and selected two of the same.

The Hillsborough Farmer's Market :

I was to discover to my misery that the green ones were green in all senses of the word. It was the unimpressive looking (and ripe) blackish ones that I should have shortlisted. Not having watched the cooking shows that closely, I now became a victim of my culinary ignorance. Especially since I had pounced on the first one immediately after my return from the market and been preparing to add it to a fruit salad for lunch where the sweeter fruit flavours might serve to conceal the taste of the avocado to K, in case he took a dislike to it (I'm never sure about him when it comes to a new food item). The moment I found it too hard to cut with a sharp knife, I knew something was wrong (with the fruit, silly, not me). After a lot of manual effort (with a variety of kitchen tools), I managed to dissect it, only to find the interior quite leathery and orange-green, which gave away the fact that it was yet to ripen. Disappointed, I wrapped it in a plastic bag and kept it on top of the fridge, so that it could make its slow way to maturity.

And then, as usual, I forgot all about it. Until a day when we had disposed of our trash sooner than we would, suspecting the recent stink in the kitchen to be coming from some fish we'd cooked the last night and whose bones now lay sulking in the bin. However, even after the apparently malodorous trash had been disposed of, the smell persisted and even grew worse. Finally, after considerable perplexity, the source was traced. The culprit was the cut avocado which I'd stored on top of the fridge and then forgotten all about. Naturally, I couldn't blame K for glaring at me after all the resultant chaos.

Well, at least there was a second one to look out for. This one ripened quite uneventfully and I was able to do it justice. Extracting the fruit actually requires some skill. First, slide the knife deep into the peel and then allow the knife to make its way all around the fruit, lengthwise. Notice that you'll meet with some resistance when you come to the centre, which is where the seed resides. Keep the knife aside. Gripping the would-be two haves of the fruit, apply a little force to twist them around and hence apart. Then with a large rounded spoon which you slide under the seed, lift the latter out of its cavity. The result should somewhat resemble this :

Now, all you have to do is use the same spoon to ease the fruit in small scoops out of its peel, which is like a hard cup with distinctly soft content, texturewise. The fruit of your toil is quite literally, at this stage, ready to eat.

By itself, the fruit tastes uncannily similar to the juicy, velvety soft 'taal-shnaash' , the fruit of the palmyra palm, very popular in Indian village festivals and now a delicacy that the urbane have mostly heard about from their parents without ever really getting to taste the actual thing (photo below) except perhaps at occasional regional festivals :

(Photo : courtesy Wikipedia )

It's only that the avocado is a trifle more buttery and less jellyish in its consistency to the 'taal-shnaash'. It tastes even better with a sprinkle of salt, a dash of pepper and a hint of lime juice. And as for its nutritional value, let's not even begin enumerating that for then we shan't know simply where to stop. Just look up the wikipedia entry yourself for the info. And after that, if you have access to the fruit and yet haven't capitalised on the fact, don't bang your head against the wall out of regret. I did warn you !

Last words : Despite all my eulogising, I must confess that I haven't managed to convert K to eat the fruit under consideration. He took a small bite, grimaced, described the taste as ok and insisted he could do without it. So much for trying to make one's own husband follow a healthy diet !


A Bookworm said...

Really... I too have fallen for this fruit....try out a Guacamole sometime... it is much more savory and serve it with corn chips...
And as for the Food Channel ...I have become an addict....:) to watch Ina, Giada and Bobby Flay..

Casuarina said...

@ Bookworm : Hey, I shall, thanks for the suggestion...I did try out green coloured guacamole chips from Walgreens once, and loved them !

Ina's my favourite when it comes to the Food Channel, although I'm in total awe of the grilling expertise of Bobby Flay and the Italian dishes (with an American twist) of Giada too. And do watch 'Food Detectives''s the best !

A Bookworm said...

Sure will...:)

Discovering M said...

i have tried it, but have stayed away from it eversince ! but the fruits I dont like much mostly goes down smooth when you have it dipped in vanilla ice cream :)

good to go healthy! I have been eating a lot of fruits over the last one year and on my last visit to india most of my cousins friends were down with fever / flu etc.. but i survived possibly due to a more robust immune system and i am sure eating a lot of fruits helped.


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