Posted 18th May 2010 by Jenny McIvor
There are few things more depressing to consume than an unripe avocado. Burnt toast, perhaps. Raw aubergine. Boiling lemonade.
But when I bought my avocados (most definitely unripe - when I squeezed them gently, they couldn't have been less interested/just didn't want to know) earlier this week, I had resolved not to let that happen to me. Oh, no. I was planning ahead. I was playing the long game, and so had installed them on my kitchen window ledge for a couple of days, letting them take their own sweet time slowly ripening, courtesy of the unexpectedly lovely May sunshine and the Torquay-like micro climate of the paper bag I'd bundled them into.
Some 72 hours later, and they were good to go. When I ran a knife round one, from top to bottom, through the oddly plastic skin that's typical of the fruit, it sank down into it without complaint, and the two halves of the pear fell apart to reveal the avocado's, gorgeously pale green flesh, as soft as butter. Who knew that something so creamy and flawless could lurk under that knobbly skin?
Onto tackling the stone. Time was, I used to stone an avocado like an amateur, attempting, with wildly varying degrees of success, to scoop out the slippery critter with a teaspoon, in the food-prep equivalent of the snail-eating scene from Pretty Woman. But now I know better, as will anyone who reads our guide on how to prepare avocado, which shows how the pros do it - slam the knife into the stone to get some purchase on it, then twist to release.
There's something hugely satisfactory about the action of lifting the blade up, taking aim, and bringing it swiftly and squarely down again in the direction, hopefully, of the stone. But it's also slightly anxiety inducing, like a dilute form of flinging a knife, circus sideshow-style, at a lovely assistant: knife meets wood = result; knife meets yielding flesh = professional shame, and possible lawsuit. No risk of my avocados engaging a top QC and taking me for all I've got if I didn't meet my intended target, of course. Just the dissatisfaction of a botched job and slight concern that my eye-hand coordination won't be up to speed in time to be selected for the 2012 British Olympic archery team.
But this time I was more or less on form - knife lodged in stones, stones twisted out without complaint. That buttery flesh was destined for this chilled, warm-weather soup, an avocado-y spin on the Spanish classic, gazpacho. I added about a quarter of a teaspoon of smoked paprika, but only because I'm slightly obsessed with the deliciously charry flavour it gives anything to which you add it - the soup's really good without it, too. What d'you reckon - was that the best destination for those lovingly hand-ripened avocados? It's not as if there aren't plenty of other fitting ends, like this highly luscious salad, the crispy bacon the perfect foil to the avocado's buttery mouthfeel, or this smart, summery starter with a South American influence , or maybe this deli-standard lunchtime sarnie (juicy red onion is another perfect ingredient to buddy up with avocado).
How are you going to use yours?