Avocados have fooled me so many times.
I go to the supermarket, avoid the obviously rotten ones and select what I think is a keeper, hoping it’s the long-awaited perfect avocado which will fit nicely into my life. One that’s not too firm and not too soft, gorgeous even with peel that looks like suede shoes after running through a rainstorm.
I have faith that this fruit will enhance my existence with graceful green half-moons, like the ones on top of trendy salads in magazine photographs, or as firm chunks atop cold red gazpacho. Should it get a tiny bit soft, there’s still avocado toast. I am willing to commit.
But it turns on me the minute I look away, no matter how good it appeared when I picked it up. Another disappointing avocado goes into the trash can with a thunk.
Every time, I swear I’ll never waste money on one of those things again. But there I am, back pawing through the avocado bin, looking for The One.
Why can’t an avocado be like other fruits and vegetables? They aren’t nearly as challenging.
I’m not too surprised when I’m misled by fresh corn, covered as it is with a green husk which smells like a lush summer field. It’s not unusual to find disappointment beneath that husk: an ear that’s sparse and spotty, looking as if someone popped half of the ear and rewrapped it. But I can scrape off the kernels that are on there and make the best of it, if I want to salvage what I thought was fresh perfection from being a total loss, by going for corn pudding.
And melons, oh, the deception of melons. Thumping them, rolling them over — there are so many tales your mother told you about how to find a great one. But melons aren’t such a mystery if you pay attention to the amount of green within the meshed rind of cantaloupes (the less there is, the riper) and how much hot weather there was before that watermelon came to you (the more there is, the better). Fragrance can be a good indicator with cantaloupes, and a yellow-ish spot where a watermelon sat on the soil is a positive sign.
Besides, you have a little time with a melon. It doesn’t go from good idea to disgusting reject by the time you get it home, which I swear has happened to me with avocados.
Some avocados look great in the flattering light of the supermarket, practically begging me to put them in tacos. But when I get them to my kitchen, they turn out to be like soggy socks.
Yet, I persist in hope.
Because the perfect avocado is unlike anything else in the world, even more so precisely because it is so rare. It gives just a bit under pressure, but not too much. The exterior offers no hint to the yellow-green delight within, the creamy richness surrounding a strong center. Buttery slices hold their shape, and the flesh is smooth on the tongue, with a flavor that’s hard to describe but impossible to resist.
A perfect avocado reminds us to live in the moment, to savor each bite and delight in good fortune. It’s worth pursuing and, like the husband I wouldn’t trade after nearly four decades, worth searching for.