The Good Life
with Eli F.J. Tajanlangit
It's in season once more, this fruit beloved not just for its taste but for its nutritional wallop. Supposedly low in sugar, it delivers minerals and nutrients in a package that does not compromise other areas in the body, aside of course from its nice taste and texture. Mixed with milk and sugar, then frozen, it can very well pass off as ice cream.
Avocadoes have been with us for a long time, we all have avocado stories to share. Mine is growing up brainwashed by my elders at how delightful this fruit is, especially the nutritional benefits it delivers. I can still remember one of their promotional lines: a piece of avocado is equal to six pieces of eggs in nutrition. I don't know how much of that is scientifically proven, but since I liked eggs, it soon followed that avocado became one of my favorite fruits.
To this day, however, I will never forget an avocado tree in my grandparents' backyard, one that yielded fruits that did not turn purple but stayed green to their ripe age. This was the avocado that was so sticky and creamy you could eat it straight, without milk and sugar. Of course, when it is prepared with these two ingredients, it becomes heavenly: imagine the creamy-sticky goodness of the fruit given an added level of creaminess courtesy of the milk, then wrapped up in the sweetness of sugar.
That backyard tree has since died, but it gave me my first lessons at varieties: how one fruit tree can, in fact, come in various kinds. This was especially honed on me because not far from this tree was another that yielded elongated fruits that were deep purple in color, but tasted too flat and watery you had to drown it in full cream powdered milk to make it taste good.
Indeed, it would be interesting to see exactly how many avocado varieties do we have in our country, how blessed we are with all sorts of avocado, there should be one kind for every recipe we have. I am sure we have avocadoes that make great ice-cream, avocadoes that should do very well in salads, avocadoes for dips, and on and on.
It is sad that we don't have a working knowledge on these avocado varieties, something that perhaps would have allowed us to know what dish is best prepared with what variety.
I know of rural folks who could, like our old folks in the past, recognize one avocado fruit from another, which one yielded sticky flesh and which ones are no good. Imagine how so much more richer our culinary culture would be if we all did and prepared avocadoes according to their kind.
As it is, aside from the avocado milk shake and smoothie, there are other avocado recipes we do very well. We make great avocado ago-go: the Pinoy ice goodness, avocado milk and sugar put in elongated plastics and frozen.
For that sticky avocado variety, an aunt would drizzle them with extra-virgin olive oil, put a dash of salt and that's it. Avocado cubes, especially the ones that are firm, also go well in salads, as an added layer of taste and texture.
Good Friend C, ever the food adventurer, recently found out that mixing avocado cubes into the kinilaw, or ceviche, raises the dish into a whole new level: the fresh taste of the fruit serving as a nice counterpoint to the sour fish flesh.
It works very well in the kinilaw dishes that do not use mayo or cream, the better to contrast the textures of the fish, the tomatoes and onions with the avocado squares.*