Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm
Who doesn’t like avocados? That rich, healthy, delectable pulp which, to me, feels like dessert off the tree?
My husband, that’s who. Since Mr. C was raised in the Midwest on a nearly entirely Korean diet, I figured he just never had an opportunity to really experience how wonderful avocados can be. This was a minor problem when we moved in together and I started bringing home big bagfuls of them. Fresh guacamole? No thank you. Avocado crab salad? Uh, maybe next month. I soon realized it was going to take more than a couple of mouth-watering recipes to make him a convert.
But what exactly? I started thinking back to where and when my passion for the fruit began. I loved watching my dad enjoy them – at the market, his able hands selecting the perfect one; then at home, the quick circular cut open to two perfectly equal halves of olive-y yellow flesh, the sharp snap of the knife into the pit – a twist and out it came, the silver spoon scooped, dad’s mouth instantly filled with creamy, healthy goodness. Completely focused on his task, he never spoke or otherwise interrupted the moment until nothing was left but two hollowed-out shells, and he was left licking the spoon with palpable satisfaction. Maybe dad was a buttoned-up dentist by day, but on the weekends, his dexterous hands were dedicated to the pursuit of a few private moments of gastronomic bliss.
But there was an even more recent memory that inhabited my mind. It took place in the hills of Santa Barbara, not long after I’d moved to LA to start my private chef business.
Imagine: three worn, white plastic garden chairs– crusted over with brown dust and dirt – in a semi-circle, set deep within a forest-green grove of avocado trees, underneath the huge shaded canopy of a single tree, its fruit dangling like a million giant teardrops clinging to spindly dark brown branches. One chair was for me, the other for my friend the old orchard owner, and the other? Who knows. Neither of us had a love interest at the time, and we certainly weren’t considering each other as a prospect. Was the third chair like a third wheel? Or did it symbolize a mysterious other – a loving spirit watching and waiting for one of us? We laughed as we contemplated the possibilities, ate pillow-soft avocado with pocket knives and talked about the history of the grove. A few moments later, we just enjoyed the silence, reveling in the idea that so much was growing around us, that we were safe and protected from the busy outside world in this dark and slightly spooky place from which we could see nothing but thick gnarled trees far out into a wooded horizon.
You can be sure the next time Mr. C and I visited my parents in Santa Barbara, I took him for a long, fragrant walk through the grove, so boundless and wild to my mind now, I almost immediately felt lost. Then I saw the old white chairs, still where we’d left them years earlier, but this time I noticed that there were only two. I looked around to see if anyone had moved one, perhaps to stand on to reach a high branch in a sort of “no avocado left behind” mission. But the third chair had vanished. Mr. C and I sat down in the two chairs – both of us looking up in awe — and magically reached out for each other’s hand at the same moment. Later on, as we walked back up to the house and caught sight of my friend on his porch, talking on his cell phone, I’m sure I saw him winking at me and smiling.
And after that afternoon, I believe, my husband started to understand that food isn’t just something you like or don’t like, eat or don’t eat. It’s something that – if you’re lucky – marks the defining moments of your life. But only, of course, if you choose that to be so. Or maybe it’s the idea that we appreciate best what we have seen with our own eyes to be a true thing.