For years I harbored an affair with the avocado. On certain cool, sunny mornings, I sigh deeply, enjoying the feel of my knife snapping through the rough outer shell and slicing cleanly through to the pit. The fruit yields so satisfyingly to a smart twist, easily giving up a gradient of green and gold flesh. When I’m sure no one is watching, I’ll close my eyes and run my tongue along the smooth brown nut, savoring the slick roundness of seed. There is something absolutely delicious about that sensation.
Even the derivation of the fruit’s name is seductive. Avocado, from the Aztec ahuacatl, meaning “testicle.” The Aztecs not only named the fruit for its likeness in shape, but also believed it had aphrodisiac qualities. But its the avocado’s buttery flesh that lures me in, rich in monounstaturated fat and more potassium than a banana.
Perhaps I can blame my mother for an early introduction. As a child growing up in California (where 95% of the United States avocado are farmed), my mother would sometimes reward me with a post-dinner treat, half an avocado diced into a bit of milk. I loved the refreshing lightness of the dessert, but even then I thought the milk was too light to hold its own against the avocado. In later years, I realized the preparation was actually the result of slimming down a more traditional Asian dessert, avocado with condensed milk. While I understand the motivation, skim milk is simply no substitute for condensed creamy goodness.
On the savory side, and just as simple, grilled avocado. I have yet to meet a diner who hasn’t uttered some sort of gutteral appreciation upon first bite. So minimal, this dish. Simply slice the avocado in half, remove the pit and place flesh side down on a heated grill. With its high fat content, the avocado even eliminates, the need to oil the grill in advance. Let the avocado sit for about four minutes, then rotate each half 45° to achieve that always appealing cross-hatch. Pull them off the grill, plate them on a clean white dish, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a few twists of cracked black pepper and there you go. The result is wonderful simply spread on a baguette, but is more often hastily devoured with a spoon.