From the same utility room pile that yielded yesterday's Hollywood Sewing Patterns post, I found a stack of sequential Pillsbury Bake-off Cookbooks-- which were cute because the woman who collected them carefully annotated each cover to reflect the year the Bake-off had taken place (Pillsbury had only thought to title each "First Annual", "Second Annual", "Third Annual", and so on) in looping black felt tip pen. The sixth annual (1956) book I opened at random, and out fluttered this leaflet on Calavo Avocados and their uses.
"How many ways do you serve this many-purpose fruit?" asked the cover. "Um...sometimes I buy them on sale and just eat slices as I go? Or, uhhh...on a sandwich? Sometimes?" was probably not the answer the 1954 Calavo Growers of California writers were looking for, so I skimmed through the recipes inside and started thinking about how I had no idea people used avocados in variant ways as far back as the fifties'. Avocado dip, of course, but as the avocado had never, never been part of my household grocery list growing up (I mean, not even guacamole), and as I had first eaten one on a sandwich as a thirteen year old on a visit to Provence Breads with my theater-people great-Uncle George, I figured the rest of the world shared my ignorance. I was wrong! Take a look:
Things I learned from Wikipedia and/or the California Avocado Commission's website:
- Avocado grow on trees, in orchards (I don't know why this seems so weird to me)
- In China, an avocado is known as what directly translates to an "alligator pear" or a "butter pear", owing to their scaly outerskin and rich fruit.
- In Brazil, they add avocados to ice cream (what?!); in the Phillipines, they puree avocados, sugar, and milk into a dessert drink (what?!!).
- An average avocado has a serving size of 1/5 the entire fruit (so-o-o-o, eating it whole is a bad thing. Dang it), with 50 calories per serving (35 of which is fat...no wonder it's called the butter pear).
- Avocado trees were first brought to America in 1871 by Santa Barbarian (haha) Judge R.B. Ord.
Most of the suggestions in this pamphlet are pretty tame...Calavo and Tomato, Calavo stuffed with a creamy meat salad of your choice (which sounds way worse now that I'm typing it than it did in my head...). I'm always interested with the party idea of filling one hollowed out thing with another. It seems the height of sophistication to my poor little peasant brain to see crab meat salad in a whole-tomato shell, or baked cinammon sweet potatoes and marshmellows inside an orange shell..."special" serving indeed!
Here's where the avocado should be truly welcomed in a culinary setting-- on a salad or a sandwich! BLT with A in the place of the T? Sign me up! I do wonder about the regional availability of avocados...while it said that they shipped twenty-three varieties out of California by the time this pamphlet would have come out, did they ship a lot to the Southeastern United States? My mom, a fifth generation Nashvillian, pointed out once that she hadn't eaten a whole artichoke until she was well into her twenties', and I don't know if that's because of the market or because of the unadventurous nature of her palate.
The next series of scans are from Ebony magazine in 1961, which featured a column called "Date with a Dish" (get it? Get it? Another word for a pretty girl is a dish, except this is an actual food dish? I crack up all over again). This installment highlight the avocado as a "native American exotic fruit" (um, not true, but we'll go on) and usable in a variety of dishes. Which the magazine goes on to show you.
OH MY GOD WHAT ABOMINATION IS THIS. WHAT. WHAT IS HAPPENING. WHY ARE THEY SPREADING MASHED AVOCADO ON HOT CORN. WHAT IS LIFE.
Have you ever heard of this before? I guess I shouldn't knock it before I try it, but I was honestly surprised to see what is essentially guacamole spread on AN EAR OF CORN. To the right, a slightly more palatable dish of fruit cocktail interspersed with avocados. Calm. Calm. Wash the night vision of the corn out of your eyes, Lisa...
The recipe on the left is just a recipe for barbecued steak, but then they add avocados as garnish, which I think is cheating in a list of "avocado" recipes. To the right, shrimp curry in avocado equals YES! YES! YES!
Do you remember the first avocado ya ever et? Am I just a hillbilly or did you yourself ever run into a situation where a strange, foreign food presented itself in a dish you were about to eat, and you either loved or hated it?
Hope you're in the process of having a great Tuesday; I'll see you tomorrow!