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South Africans have always had a soft spot for avocados. The subtropical fruit grows abundantly in the northeastern part of our country, and in recent years has found a new lease on life as hipsters, vegans and the Instagram generation have rediscovered the classic avo on toast.
The avocado tree has been traced back over 10 000 years, to the ancient civilisations of Guatemala and Mexico. The Mayan people revered the fruit and even used the avocado as a symbol on their famous calendar.
The people of Central America first called the fruit aguacate, after the word for testicle – ahuacatl. The name was inspired by their shape and because they often hang on the tree in pairs. In the 1500s the Conquistadors took the name into Spanish and gave us the word “avocado”.
RECIPE: Mexican beef sirloin taco with avocado
Avocados had a quiet period for about the next 400 years. They were farmed on family smallholdings throughout Central America and used in Mexican cuisine during this time. It wasn’t until the 1900s that American farmers in California started to farm them commercially, and then it seems they didn’t quite know what to call them…
The knobbly green skin of the Hass avocado inspired the early name of “alligator pear”, but it doesn’t take a marketing guru to figure out that that name didn’t go over well with consumers. Across the world avocados are also known as butter fruit, avocado pear and cheese pear.
Today, Mexico grows almost 30% of the world’s avocados and with the trend for plant-based eating not letting up, it seems that the testicle fruit is here to stay.
Here in South Africa, winter is the time when avocados are abundant and, most importantly, cheaper! We’re using them in all sorts of recipes – even smoothies and desserts!
Find all the avo recipes you need: 10 super tasty avo recipes to make while they’re in season
Hi in Indian circles we call it ava-cota pear