I had read one of Agatha French's stories on another blog and liked her writing so much that I immediately contacted her to see if she'd like to contribute a story about avocados. And to my delight and surprise she said she'd love to. I sent her a big box of avocados and told her to go to it.
|Aggie trying an avocado ice cream recipe...she's smiling now!|
Here's her story:
I owed Lupe a phone call. My childhood nanny, who I consider a mother and subsequently avoid as only a daughter can, she'd left multiple messages, always the same: "Aggie, soy yo," said in the most accusatory tone imaginable. The sound of the phone clicking into its cradle (less and less common now) was itself an admonishment. She didn't need to say anything else.
I was standing in my kitchen over a box of avocados that Nancy, one half of the duo Ladies of the Grove, had sent to me. I'd been looking forward to the delivery, but when faced with the physical reality of two dozen avocados, each single one's weight in my hand a reminder of its filling fattiness, I felt overwhelmed. The logical option was to make guacamole, but I'd already made up my mind to experiment with them, being the kind of person who irrationally believes that the perfect recipe, the recipe that will change my life and that I will forever and affectionately be known for, lies just ahead. But what could one make with avocados?
I called Lupe for advice.
"Lupe, I have a mountain of avocados, but I don't want to make guacamole. What else can I do with them?"
"I don't understand."
My Spanish isn't what it used to be, and so I began to repeat myself.
"I want to cook with avocados, but I do not want guacamole."
She asked me when I was coming to visit her, and whether I wanted carnitas or pollo. I realized that she had understood my question perfectly, what she couldn't understand was why I would ever ask such a thing. It was Lupe's belief that when faced with a mountain of avocados, you make guacamole. What would possess you to do anything else? We made a lunch date for the weekend. She decided that chicken would be served.
"Bring me an avocado," she said.
"What are you going to do with it?" I asked her. I thought for a moment that I had caught her, that I would learn of some authentic and stewy dish that avocados brilliantly garnish.
I'm going to eat it," she replied. She clucked her tongue and sucked her teeth in that way she has, a sound universally understood by children to preface a chiding. "It's an avocado", she said, "What the hell is wrong with you?"
I enlisted the help of my best girlfriend, Meghan. I had once seen in her eye the same blind faith in the New Recipe that I feel, as she clipped one from a glossy magazine. (I have also seen her file New Recipes, in a special recipe box, with a reverence and formality that is like prayer.) She did not balk when I sent her a lengthy email listing 14 possible recipes to try, including the possible pros and cons of making each one, and the multiple places we would need to go for their ingredients. In fact she replied carefully, in bold, to each of my bullet points. (We are best friends for a reason.)
• No matter what else you put in it, if you mash an avocado and spread it on a chip, you will be eating guacamole.
• Guacamole does not need sun dried tomatoes. I repeat: do not try to tart guacamole up. You will only wish that you made guacamole the way you always do, and not this ostentatious guacamole sitting in your living room like an overdressed guest.
• You should make avocado ice cream...if you want to be truly appalled.
"I'm never eating an avocado again," Meghan told me.
"I know," I said. I was uncomfortably full and trying, unsuccessfully, to ponder the number of calories we'd just consumed. "But look at it this way, with all those good fats, it's like we just gave ourselves a round of botox from the inside." This cheered us up for a moment, until Meghan said, "We are not a test kitchen," hugged me and went home.
On Saturday I still couldn't face an avocado, but I brought Lupe one like she'd asked. We sat on her porch eating chicken, watching the smell of her cooking drive her son's new dog mad. ("What's its name?" I asked her. "I call it Pumpkin," she said. An hour later her son came home, and, seeing me pet the dog said, "So I see you've met Brownie.") Lupe ate her avocado with a spoon, out of the shell, with some salt on it.
"Que rico," she said.
The next week I ate the last couple of avocados this way, standing up in the my kitchen. What do you do with an avocado? You eat it. Lupe was right.
Thanks Aggie, for reminding us that it's always best to trust the simple things in life.