There was a time, younger food aficionados, when one expected to see the "half avocado with oil and vinegar on a bed of iceberg lettuce" or the "avocado and grapefruit salad with poppyseed dressing" on the menu of any restaurant sporting a decent wine list. Alas, fruit and veggie lovers, this is no longer true. Once a fine dining experience, the avocado has become a cult food, eaten by vegans, fans of the faded California cuisine and those who frequent Mexican restaurants where it is served in its adulterated form—"guacamole."
A community interested in progress will embrace the avocado. Avocados are educational. Take the seed from an avocado, suspend it with toothpicks so the base is in water, and soon you will have the beginning of your own avocado tree—suitable for "show and tell" or a science fair project.
Low in carbs and saturated fats, avocados increase good cholesterol and decrease waistlines. In addition to health benefits, avocados offer an economic benefit for the community. People who eat avocados are more likely to read Forbes, know which fork to use and long for the day they can afford a Volvo. Isn't this who we want in Jackson?
The above information leads to the obvious question, "Why is no one doing anything about this culinary crisis?" Across America people are being served frozen guacamole or no avocado at all.
Where are our elected officials? Every candidate for office promises to improve education, but have you heard one of them discuss the extent to which our children are avocado-illiterate? Why aren't chefs in upscale restaurants hauled before congressional committees and forced to explain themselves? Where are the calls for an independent investigation?
We know we cannot trust the government. These are the same people who sat by and allowed the near extinction of the agave plant—the plant from which we get tequila—and the result was an increase in tequila prices that would make a drug company blush with shame.
You may say, "I don't like avocado, so I don't care." I ask you, what's next? Cantaloupes? Mangos? Alfalfa sprouts? Friends, if we abandon the noble avocado in its time of need, we will, indeed, start down that long slippery slope of fruit and vegetable discrimination.
Do you want jack-booted thugs from the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Avocado agency breaking down doors looking for clandestine avocado plants growing in closets under artificial light? Will you feel threatened when possession of lime juice and cilantro constitute "guacamole paraphernalia"?
As we decide how to organize against the absence of the avocado salad, I will guide you to a few places in the Jackson area brave enough to serve fresh avocado:
Roly Poly Sandwiches in Deville Plaza (991-1717) bravely entered the Jackson market with several avocado offerings. The California Turkey includes bacon, cheese, avocado, sprouts, mango chutney and ranch dressing. My favorite is the Thai Hot Tuna that includes avocado, sprouts, mango chutney and a spicy Thai sauce. Fresh, sliced avocado can be added to any sandwich.
Broad Street at Banner Hall (362-2900) offers fresh avocado in its Cobb Salad along with turkey, bacon and blue cheese. At one time, avocado was offered on some of Broad Street's sandwiches, but, the most recent menu shows it is no longer available.
Tableside guacamole is served at On The Border Café at 6352 Ridgewood Court Dr. (977-9447) and at El Chico's at 3654 Hwy 80W at Metrocenter mall (969-5998). The avocado is fresh, and one can choose the level of spiciness as the waitperson prepares it. Be warned, however. Several local Mexican restaurants serve frozen guacamole similar to that sold at Sam's. This may fool the average diner, but readers of this column will know after one chip.
These few offerings of avocado give hope that the avocado salad will return. My only request is that when you vote this November, you vote for candidates who will put fresh avocado in the salads of the restaurants in Jackson, on the buffets at the casinos, and next to the chips and hot sauce in our Mexican restaurants. Our future, our children's future, and generations of fruit yet to be cross-pollinated depend on it.
Don't forget sushi lovers.
The tableside guacamole at On the Border is a great treat, but ask your server not to add salt to the mixture and request extra slices of lime. You can add your own salt, and a few drops of lime on the chip before scooping gives the guac a nice little extra bite.
Shrimp w/ Avocado
1/2 pound peeled, 16/20-ish count shrimp very lightly cooked and roughly chopped
juice of one fresh lime
1 small white onion, minced very finely
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced peeled cucumber or jicama (or a combination)
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
Combine and refrigerate for several hours. Serve over ripe avocado with melon.