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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Demystifying the Avocado

It seems we are reaching a stage that the kitchen can become the smallest room in the house since its use is becoming almost obsolete. We blame our busy lives so as not to bother to cook or to even prepare simple salads. Supermarkets make money off of our lack of desire to chop up lettuce, providing it already chopped in a plastic bag. Fruits and its various combinations are provided in plastic packaging. All of this so called convenience comes with a price, and not only at the cash register. Plastic packaging in the end has to find its way into the garbage. Recycling plants do not take plastics that have been in contact with raw foods but pick it out and send it to landfill. The reason is simple – the possibility of contamination. Our news services periodically carry announcements of contaminates in packaged salads warning of recalls.

Now we have a new face on the produce prepackaged shelf, the avocado. Sobeys Supermarkets are selling one avocado cut in half with its pit removed and fully peeled. It is packaged in a sexy tight plastic seal with thin colourful wrapping displaying the manufacturer's name and all kinds of information on the back. Sobeys sells this avocado for $3.99, and at today's price a fresh whole avocado sells at Sobeys for $1.99. This newly packaged avocado has caught the attention of many, even across the border in the US. Maybe the Sobeys corporation will see this as beneficial publicity promoting its brand name to the public, without question they will not think of the potential environmental impact of thousands of packages heading towards landfill.

So as a chef who has cooked for so many years and as someone who has peeled enough avocados to have lost count I simply want you to see how easy it is.

First take the fresh avocado in your hand, with a sharp knife cut down to the pit and run that right around the full circumference of the avocado. Then in one quick and easy move give it a twist and it will come apart in your hand.

Now you have the avocado in two halves. Second act is to get the pit out. Again it truly is simple. Using the knife you had to cut the avocado, tap the pit with the blade across the length of the pit so the knife is actually piercing into it, then again give it a slight twist left to right and the pit comes out on the knife. Give it a light tap with something like a spoon and the pit freely falls off the knife.

Here it is halved and pitted, the decision on how to eat it up to you. Many people enjoy the avocado with a spoon straight out of its natural bowl, its skin. I have used a small melon baller to drop lovely round shaped bombs of goodness into a salad. For breakfast, I take the two halves and with a teaspoon open the hole a little more where the pit was. Then I break an egg into each half of the avocado and cook it under the boiler till the egg is done. Looks fantastic on a plate and tastes out of this world.

Still if you prefer to peel then here is the third and final act. A small incision at the edge of the skin will allow you to peel away this outer natural protective layer as easy as the plastic off the prepacked one sold at Sobeys. If you prefer you can take a butter knife and run it all around just inside the avocado half between the layer of skin and its flesh. Then you are ready to slice away; put it on a burger or into a salad, your choices are only limited by your imagination.

The reality is simple, there is nothing difficult in chopping lettuce or mixing various greens for variety and taste in your salad. So-called busy lives in the final analysis comes across as a simple excuse. After all how long does it take to peel an orange, 30 seconds? An avocado is no different. If you don't care about the packaging and the environmental impact, that is your choice. If you don't care for the fact that one packaged and peeled avocado costs as much as two natural ones, that is your choice, but do hang onto that job for dear life! Though think about this: that prepackaged avocado has a shelf life for 55 days! I had one very strange comment on Facebook about this where an individual had spoken of some mystical 30 minute window of perfect freshness. My response is simple: on day 55 after purchase (or best before date) some 1320 hours had passed and their theory blown out of sensibility.

Finally, think about this, those who package and sell this avocado only resent the so-called 'most perfect' ones. How many do they throw out into the garbage before the perfect one appears?

An island breakfast with Avocado & Egg

4 avocados
8 eggs
8 slices genoa salami, hot
balsamic vinegar to drizzle

Cut the avocados in half and take the pits out.
With a spoon gently remove some of the avocado flesh to open up the holes more,
keeping the flesh aside.
Place avocados on baking dish, crack one egg at a time and drop into the hole making sure the avocado doesn't tip over and spill the egg out.
Season to taste.
Place the egg and avocado under the broiler and cook till egg is done.
Use the left-over avocado flesh with a spray of fresh lime or lemon juice and a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar and create a paste or spread with a spoon, mixing everything together.
On a plate cut the genoa salami into quarters, place two halves of cooked avocado with egg and drop salami around, drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar.
Toast some slices of baguette and spread avocado paste and serve.

(Serves 4)

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