Two days into our honeymoon, Tim and I are eating lunch at a taco hut near our condo, a whitewashed building where the windows are always open and the ceiling fans are always moving, and the hot Hawaiian breezes blow in and out leisurely, matching the pace of the island where we’re staying, palm tree branches rustling in the wind.
On the porch in front, there’s a cardboard box set up on a bar stool with a sign that reads, “$0.25 each” and which holds a dozen or so avocados, each of them half the size of Tim’s head, and there’s no one around to collect payments, just a large glass jar, so after looking at each other in disbelief, still amazed that we’re in Kauai, let alone that we’re paying 1/8 of what we’d pay for avocados in the states, we grab a handful of dark green, alligator-skinned fruits, leave our money and go.
As far as foods go, avocados are the closest thing I know to magic, and not just when you’re eating them on your honeymoon. They’re cool and creamy, filling, versatile enough to be guacamole and smoothies and salads and rich chocolate frosting atop raw chocolate brownies. They’re filled with vitamins: A, B complex, C, E, H and K. They’re high in essential amino acids and rich in minerals: folate, magnesium, copper, iron, calcium and potassium. But most importantly, avocados are fatty—not just any kind of fatty, but good fatty.
And while I know in this world of low-fat diets and counting calories that putting words like good and fatty together can seem like an oxymoron, kind of like saying gorgeous ugly or smart stupid or transparent Southerner, they’re the fatty that promotes good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers bad (LDL). The fatty that’s good for heart health. The fatty that makes it easier for your body to absorb and use the good vitamins and antioxidants in the rest of the salad you’re eating them in. The fatty proven to work against inflammation, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
In other words, like I said, magic.
I love avocados because they taste good and because we eat them in Hawaii and because of their health benefits, and I spent a good chunk of time trying to convince my dad (and all men I know) to eat them more often because they’re also shown to reduce risk of prostate cancer, but mostly I love them because they literally amaze me—avocados are one of those rare things in life that regularly make me think, wow, now this is exactly as it should be, and we all need more of those moments.
Because, you know, in this life, it’s not hard to be disappointed. In a broken world of child abuse and poverty and fundamentalism and egos, it’s not hard to put your heart out there and have it crushed, not hard to be hurt, to feel the sting of someone’s words, to be forgotten or ignored or misunderstood. And there are days, I’ll just be honest, when I feel overwhelmed with all the bad things that surround us, enough that writing a little post on avocados seems pretty silly, pretty paltry, pretty small.
But here’s the thing I tell myself when those thoughts come: it’s good to see the truth of what is hard and face it, yes, but it’s better to see the whole truth, that hard things are not the only things and that there are good gifts too surrounding us—surrounding me—every day.
That’s why it’s blessed to look at the avocados we buy in Nashville and bring back to our gift of a home to cook in our gift of a kitchen, covering in flour and eggs and bread crumbs and sauteing into fries, so we can share them together at the table, dipped in yogurt sauce and eaten while the daylight pours in. And it’s blessed to be in Hawaii marveling at the abundance of avocados and starfruit and bananas, blessed to recognize how produce and vacation and the very marriage that they’re celebrating are gifts to make our hearts grateful and more filled with joy.
So we do, when we slather avocado on toast, when we eat guacamole late at night, when we add an avocado to our salad, when we make avocado fries. We thank God for making a food so rich and nutritious and enjoyable, even as we thank Him for everything else.
Serves three to four
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of flour (we used whole-grain spelt)
1 cup of bread crumbs (we toasted spelt sourdough and ground it up in the food processor with some Pecorino)
Coconut oil (or other high-heat oil)
Salt and pepper
Begin with the avocados, peeling and slicing them into wedges. Next, get all your ingredients lined up for quick assembly, flour in one bowl, eggs in the next, bread crumbs in the last; put a spoon or fork in each bowl so you don’t have to use your fingers (it gets messy that way). Warm coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot.
MAKE THE FRIES:
The process works like this: place avocado wedge in flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs, thoroughly coating in each spot. Place wedges in skillet, sprinkling with salt and pepper, flipping after they’re browned on one side. When they’re ready, they’ll be crisp and golden on both sides.
To serve, garnish with yogurt sauce and chopped red cabbage, if you like.
*Nashville tip: Look for avocados at Wal-Mart or Aldi, where the prices are always lower than other stores.
Like a good tzatziki, this sauce is tangy and fresh, but with a bit of a kick at the end.
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 cup organic Greek yogurt or strained yogurt (to strain yogurt: place cheesecloth in strainer over bowl and put yogurt in bowl. let sit for three hours, lightly covered.)
2 cloves garlic
1 handful of fresh mint leaves (around 1/8 cup)
A few hefty dashes of cayenne pepper (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Throw the cucumber in the food processor until it’s shredded into small bits. Add it to the yogurt. Smash the two heads of garlic and throw them in the same food processor, along with the mint, until finely chopped. Add to the yogurt and cucumber. Stir the mixture and add cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.