I could wax excitable and eloquent for pages upon pages about the virtues of the California Hass avocado (and yes, it is “Hass”, not “Haas”, named for Rudolph Hass, the postman who, in the 1920s, planted the one and only Mother Tree of virtually every avocado you’ve ever eaten), but I cannot stomach the poor excuse on offer at my local Safeway.
The avocado has more fiber than most fruits; is high in monounsaturated fats; is rich in B, E, and K vitamins and has more potassium than a banana; and, speaking of bananas, avocados are one of the few climacteric ripeners – the very rare fruits that mature on the tree and actually get physiologically ripe (and better tasting) on your counter top.
Anyway, the point of today’s drive-by post is this: Our local Safeway – which, to be fair, is generally a very decent supermarket, as far as supermarkets go – has Hass avocados for $1.25 per. Don’t be tempted: They’re disgusting and irredeemable. I’ve written about guacamole before but, just for the record, I love love love avocados. But not all avocados: You can keep your hard, your watery, your shiny-green-skinned Floridian bastard cousins and all those aguacates from the Caribbean and Central America – I only have time, and waistline, for the luxuriously creamy version. Unfortunately, November (in a cook’s tragic irony, because this is precisely when crab season gears up, and crabs and avocados fit together like spoons) marks the turn of seasons for the California avocado crop and the beginning of several cold, hard months of Avocado Winter.
It is during this period that we import avocados – including, as I got at Safeway, the Hass cultivar – from Mexico and, apparently, when I need to stop eating avocados altogether. I don’t know why the Mexican Hass should be so inferior, so thin and watery and hard all at once, but I suspect it has nothing to do with coming from Mexico, and everything to do with having been grown out of season. Indeed, I suspect that the children of Mother Tree Hass, while thriving in the Los Angeles summer (they’re almost all from SoCal due to frost risk), also produce rich fruit in Mexico; and then, when the Angelino trees all shutter themselves for the winter, the Mexican trees – in their slightly warmer, yet still inadequate clime – manage eek out a living, sending their nastiness to avocado junkies like me, at the seemingly bargain basement price of 4 for $5. But I don’t really know. What I do know is that the avocado will now and forever more join the ranks of the Proximal Kitchen Tomato Manifesto: Either it’s in-season, or it’s in the trash.