Is there anything that avocado can't do?
by LeAnn Nguyen
April 16, 2018
Once relatively obscure in the U.S., avocados gained popularity along with the rise of Latin-influenced dishes coming out of California. Bright green slices started showing up on sandwiches. The California roll somehow became required on sushi menus. Guacamole joined chicken wings as staples for football parties. And then it reached meme status when avocado toast became the millennial’s PB&J. In 2014, the U.S. consumed 37 million pounds of avocado per week and next year, that number is projected to be over 50 million.
There are plenty of reasons why avocados have such wide appeal. They’re deliciously, for one. They look great with that bright yellow to dark green gradient and they have numerous health benefits from an abundance of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Their versatility, which allows them to be used in a variety of dishes both savory and sweet, have made them a beloved ingredient of many different cuisines.
The fruit we know as avocado is actually a berry, scientifically known as Persea americana. As the name implies, avocado is thought to have originated in the Americas, specifically in what is today known as the southwest Mexican state of Puebla. It was cultivated throughout Central and South America and, following the arrival of the Europeans, was brought to Europe, Asia, North America, and Africa. Avocados are now grown around the world in subtropical regions. In the U.S., it’s found in places like Florida and California, where it’s the official state fruit.
As the birthplace of avocados, Latin America makes expert use of them, where it acts as either a main ingredient or a key companion to many dishes. Avocados are also ubiquitous in Central and parts of South America as a side with rice or meat, as a puree served with salads and sandwiches, or as a whole dish when filled with meats like tuna and shrimp. There are also some sweet preparations of avocado, though they are rarer. For example, in Brazil, you can find avocado mashed with sugar and lime and served as a dessert.
On the other side of the world, Asian cuisine approaches avocado from a sweeter side. Although the fruit itself is not sweet, its smooth, subtle flavor plays well with sugary ingredients to create richly indulgent desserts. Shakes that combine milk, sugar, and pureed avocado are popular in Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Indonesia and sometimes even include chocolate syrup. Avocado is also a popular ice cream flavor in Asia, which is commonly served between thick slices of white bread to create a unique spin on the ice cream sandwich.
If you’re interested in exploring the different sides of avocado, you’re in luck: there are many places in Seattle serving avocado in their own unique ways. Most Latin restaurants will of course have avocado but check out the fresh guacamole at Fogón Cocina Mexicana in Capitol Hill, the chicken avocado sandwich at Arepa Venuezalan Kitchen in University District, and the fried plantains topped with avocado salsa at Mojito in Mapleleaf.
To explore avocado-based desserts, head to one of the Bambu locations in International District or University District to try their mashed avocado smoothie. Also keep an eye out for the seasonal avocado toast flavor at Central District Ice Cream Company. And if you haven’t tried avocado as a bubble tea flavor, drop everything and go to Oasis right now!