Avocado, What makes you think you’re so holy?

You’re gonna be guacamole before too long.

“Weird Al” Yankovic

In 1975, she and I bought our dream house in Hollywood’s Hancock Park, a red-tile roof Spanish house with a garden bigger than the house.

The house belonged to a well-known vintner who had dropped dead in the wine cellar. His aging wife wanted out fast, so we got an unbelievable deal. “It’s got a wine cellar,” the Realtor told me.

There was more. We knew it had lemon and orange trees that those Mexican parrots loved, and a 40-bush sunken rose garden.

What we didn’t know was that at the far back of the spacious garden there was a huge grapefruit tree, and the wealthy retired lady next door had two even bigger avocado trees. Within months, we found the backyard littered with grapefruits and avocados.

So when our gardener, (my first gardener, very exciting) told me the former owner always gave the grapefruit to him, I agreed. “I know you will want to keep the avocados,” he said, waving his hand over the sea of fruit.

Full disclosure: I eat two or three avocados a week, but in 1975 I had never tasted an avocado or seen one close up. In all my shopping years, avocados were those dark green lumps in a box on the way to the wine, cheese and chips section.

Suddenly I owned a house where seemingly hundreds of the fruit were scattered across the yard. Our elderly neighbor next door came out on her balcony and called to me, “I”m sorry, they’re a nuisance, but you’d better have the boy pick them up or the rats will get to them.”

“We have rats?”

“See those big beautiful Washington palm trees?” she asked. “Rats live up there, and they hide in all those gorgeous ivy lawns. At night they come out and eat the avocados, and then they go drink in my swimming pool.”

With that picture in mind, I got “the boy” to pick them up.

“You don’t want them, senor? You’re sure?” he asked. “They make great guacamole. They go for twenty-five cents a piece at Ralph’s Market.”

I told him to take them home and make guacamole, or take them to Ralph’s and let them worry about the rats.

Today, here in the cold wind of April, avocados are a mainstay in my kitchen. I make guacamole, avocado toast and highlight them in my salads. All over gringo America, avocados are the new apple. On the weekend of the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl and every other bowl, nary an avocado can be found in our local markets.

Adam Sternbergh, in his recent article in New York Magazine, “Have You Eaten Your Last Avocado?” tells us that in 2014, we all consumed 5.8 pounds of the green stuff. Yes, they are high in fat, but it’s “the good fat,” nutritionists tell us. They also tell us that the hops in beer lower cholesterol. Don’t be questioning the experts.

Global demand, Sternbergh tells us, has never been higher. The popular Chipotle chain goes through 97,000 pounds of avocados a day. A DAY!

Patriot fans might be surprised to learn that their favorite quarterback, Tom Brady, has his personal trainer whip up his avocado ice cream every day.

There’s danger on the horizon. An avocado is a tropical fruit, and most of our avocados come from California and Mexico where water is the new gold. It takes 72 gallons of water to grow a pound of avocados, only 9 gallons for a pound of tomatoes. But who wants to munch tomato slices when they’re watching the Patriots play ball?

So it stands to reason that unless Mexico and California, both suffering a historic drought condition, start getting a monsoon every week for a couple of years, the price of our Super Bowl guacamole is going to go through the roof.

Will it make a difference?

It may come down to this in California. People will let their lawns turn brown, flush the toilet only once a week and shower only on Saturday night, just to come up with that 72 gallons of water for the avocado tree. I can see my old friends in Hancock Park tossing a coin. “What’ll it be, guacamole or a bath?” Easy.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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