Sunday, January 15, 2012

A is for Avocado

A fellow blogger had the idea writing a series of posts, using the letter A-Z, relating to the country she lives in, which seems like a lovely way to describe all sorts of aspects about life in different places. She asked other bloggers around the world to do the same, and those who are participating are included in the blog roll on the bottom right of this page, so that if you want to, you can follow them around the world. So far there is Australia (2), Portugal (4), Poland and the UK.  I will carry on blogging about daily life here, but at the same time, every so often, will work my way through the alphabet writing an A-Z about the Dominican Republic. We start with Avocado, as I absolutely adore them and eat at least 3 or 4 a week.

Avocados originally came from central Mexico and the word comes from Nahuáti, which was the language spoken by the Aztecs. The word they used was ahuácati which means testicle! Here they are known as aguacate, although in some parts of Spanish speaking Latin America they are known as palta. Also they are not called avocados all over the world, some places know them as alligator pears or butter pears. The word abogado here means lawyer, and when I first started speaking Spanish I kept saying "I really fancy a lawyer tonight, instead of I fancy an avocado".

I knew they were widely available in the Dominican Republic but I had no idea that the DR is actually the 3rd biggest producer of avocados in the world, only Mexico and Chile produce more. The DR has climbed up the rankings since 2008 when it was in 7th place.

Avocados grow easily from seed. You just take out the big pip in the middle, and using toothpicks, balance it over some water. Once the roots have grown and a shoot come out of the top, you can then plant it outside.  Apparently it takes 4-6 years to produce fruit. Personally I think it might take a lot longer, as I bought an actual tree which I had for 4 years and no sign of any fruit.

The avocado should not be allowed to ripen on the tree but should be picked when it is still firm. Once picked, it can be left to ripen naturally, but will ripen faster if you put it in a brown paper bag, or next to other fruit when apparently some sort of ethylene gas exchange takes place.  In some countries they will actually treat the avocado with ethylene to speed up the ripening process. They are picked with a special avocado picker, which looks a bit like a lacrosse stick. Thanks to my friend Grace, also married to a Dominican, for sharing this picture of her daughter, and mother in law showing the avocado picker.

Avocados are very good for you. It is true that they have a lot of calories, around 300, but apparently, although they are high in fat, it is good fat as opposed to bad fat.  They have more potassium than bananas, more protein than cows milk or a cooked steak, have the highest fibre content of any fruit, and are also high in vitamins B,E and K.  They have been proven to lower blood cholesterol and are even being researched as a possible cancer cure.

The most famous avocado recipe is probably guacamole, the famous Mexican dip made with avocados, coriander, tomatoes and onions.  In the Dominican Republic they are usually served in wedges, with the main meal, sprinkled with salt and sometimes lime. They are also served as a salad.  I love half an avocado with its hole in the middle filled with juicy prawns and prawn cocktails sauce, or simply filled with vinaigrette.

I buy my avocados from the lady in this picture, who comes around most days with them in the washing up bowl on her head. They are 10 pesos each, around 15 pence or 35 cents, or two for 25 pesos.  If you buy the two for 25 they are bigger. 

So that is letter A.  Something I love, something truly Dominican, something I would really miss eating if I did not live here. I could do with a few more recipes for them though, so if you have any delicious ways of eating avocados please let me know.


  1. Hi,
    I am so glad you decided to join the A-Z. It's such a lovely way to keep us focused, have fun and reach out to other bloggers across the world!

    I adore advocados and guacamole!
    I was almost tempted to grow one from the pip as you described until Iread how long they may take to bear fruit. Life races by at my age... :) I've become more of a live for today person. I'm still tempted to buy a tree though :)

    Hope you are feeling better?

  2. I am really enjoying it, and already have a list of 10 different B's and no idea which one to choose! I still have my cold, but the good thing is I am not allowed to do the washing as if you touch washing powder or put your hand in water with washing powder apparently your cold will become significantly worse!

    Good luck with the avocado tree. If yours grows at the rate mine did then just maybe your baby granddaughter will eat them at her 21st birthday party.

  3. the good thing is I am not allowed to do the washing as if you touch washing powder or put your hand in water with washing powder apparently your cold will become significantly worse! I like this excuse LOL :)

    Write about them all!

    I created and updated my A-Z page, sorted through some of my existing blog posts and added the links to start it off. It's also a good way to keep old posts in focus :)

    Off to cook Mr P's dinner.

    I saw a great recipe for a lemon cake on someones blog and now I can't find it :(

  4. Here's a fancy one from Aunt Clara:
    ...and a more down to earth Dominican favourite:

  5. I love the look of the curvy tostones cups stuffed with shrimp and avocado. Will definitely try that at my next cocktail party!

  6. Here is a nice snack
    cut avocado in half after peeling
    then cut lenghtwise ,drizzle with lime to keep from turning brown
    fry some bacon
    get some big leave lettuce
    put avocado slices and bacon on it and roll it

    use any dipping sauce you like

  7. That sounds delicious bri. I had forgotten how well avocados go with bacon. Thanks.

  8. We eat avocados regularly, mainly as part of a green salad. Australians also use avocado as a replacement for butter in sandwiches. I noticed the ones I bought last week were from New Zealand, but I have no idea what percentage fo the global crop New Zealand produces!

    Yummy! And a great "A"!

  9. New Zealand is in 27th place with 19,900 tonnes last year. That is according to the United nations.
    Interesting to use as a replacement for butter!

  10. Try a Portuguese version - Using a blender, mash the avocado flesh, lemon juice, Port wine, sugar to taste. You will end up with a very smooth Green mousse which is just delicious.
    It´s one of my favourite fruits too, but strangely enough I was brought up eating it as a fruit and not a vegetable so I never use it in salads.

  11. That sounds delicious Sami. Not sure can get port wine here - maybe it will work with rum!

  12. I shall do the A to Z for France on my blog,, starting on 1st Feb!
    I love avocadoes. They're about 90 centimes at the moment, so a bit of a luxury but I can't live without guacamole.
    Thanks for a fascinating post.

  13. Glad you enjoyed it and looking forward to reading the french A-Z. A country close to my heart as studied at the university of Montpellier and was a chambermaid in various hotels on the south coast!