Guilty Pleasure

By Katie Fullerton

I used to eat sugar snap peas by the pound, and truckloads of celery—stalk after stalk after stalk—any time of the year. These were healthy choices, but not really globally minded ones. Now I get almost all of my produce from the farmers markets, and I’ve adapted to eating okra and cucumbers in the summer and red cabbage during the winter. I am learning to change with the seasons, to make wiser choices about everything—except avocados.

Avocados are my weakness, and they alone have been granted the esteem of being a decadent year-rounder. They don’t grow here in Austin—or anywhere in Texas as far as I know—and they wreak havoc on my attempts to go local. Each time I slice into one, I justify my indulgence by telling myself that they’re from Mexico, and Mexico isn’t that far away, right? But I refuse to buy green beans or corn or tomatoes from Mexico, so what gives with the hypocrisy?

I could say that it’s the avocado’s creamy texture and versatile nature that entice my love, or their ability to fit in almost anywhere and enhance whatever dish they’re placed in or on. Slices fanned on a salad add an elegant sophistication, but the avocado is equally ready and willing to sacrifice itself as a humble dip or a traditional topping for tacos. I could say that it’s the avocado’s ability to straddle the traditional fruit and vegetable labels or its hefty nutritional benefits that keep me coming back. All of the above certainly contribute, but That’s not what makes these green delicacies the trucked-in food I can’t give up. It’s the surprise inside that infatuates me.

On the outside, avocados are a homely, wrinkly, bumpy mix of brown and black. But once the skin is broken, their inner emerald beauty bursts out as if it had been itching to do so for years. The contrast between the alien-landscape exterior and the stunning interior shocks my system into awe every time. Even the pit is gorgeous—a flawless sphere. That explosion of green radiance clustered around the perfect pit is completely oblivious to its ugly stepsister of an outer shell. The coy avocado doesn’t need to worry about its appearance, though—its time will come when its flesh is exposed to the world.

Every time I walk into a grocery store, my eyes are drawn to the haphazard pile of avocados sitting on the shelf. Their tough skin does its best to ward me off, and each one boasts a “Grown in Mexico” sticker, making its origin undeniable. Despite this, though, I can’t help but pick out my favorite two or three and dream of the fabulous ways I’ll use them. It may be a small chink in my locavore armor, but I love my avocados anyway. After all, nobody’s perfect.

Editor’s note: Dear Katie, there ARE avocados being grown in Texas! Family-owned G&S Groves in McAllen, known primarily as a grower of certified organic citrus, grows conventional avocados which are seasonally available from December through February. Find them through Farmhouse Delivery, in the local box from Greenling and order from  Farm to Table (wholesale).