When I was younger there was always a row of recycled glass jars sitting on the windowsill in our kitchen. Each jar contained 3 or 4 toothpicks holding a pit and lots of roots sprouting in the water. At times, my mother’s green thumb even produced a few 3 foot plants. But what I remember most was being told it takes 60 years for these plants to bear fruit. As a young child, this freaked me out; I was always doing the math, thinking if I was going to be too old to ever see it flourish. Needless to say, in my young adulthood I researched the facts; homegrown avocado plants usually don’t produce fruit , one needs to graft the seedling for fruit to grow and that takes 5-13 years. My mother’s plants usually died, but she was determined, and those recycled glass bowls, whether dried out or filled with roots, remained on the windowsill year after year.
The avocado, the alligator pear, the rough green textured fruit; it contains 20 vitamins and minerals, heart-healthy unsaturated fat and has a relatively high fiber content. And it tastes delicious!
It would not be inaccurate to say that I have the palate of an octogenarian Polish Jew, despite the fact that I’m a 27-year-old Australian living in Brooklyn. Whenever I hypothesize with friends about what my final meal would be (you know the game), my answer is always the same: Shabbos dinner, Ashkenazi-style: challah, schmaltz herring, gefilte fish, chicken soup with kneidlakh and lokshen, roast chicken with potatoes, poppyseed cake, and a finger or two of Johnnie Walker, neat. I get misty-eyed just thinking about it.
To that list I’d add something incongruous, though no less essential: my mother’s avocado, egg and onion dip. There was no avocado in my grandparents’ respective shtetls, certainly, but it’s as native to Shabbos dinner in my Australian family as hummus is to an Israeli lunch. We ask for it in one breath, not bothering to enunciate the words properly: “pass-the-avocado-egg-n-onion.” No please, no thank you. (Ours is an etiquette-optional table.) My father, who is unfailingly generous with food — always insisting that everyone else serve themselves and eat before him — only ever seems disappointed when he misses out on avocado-egg-n-onion dip. Occasionally, when ripe avocados prove elusive, there’s no dip at all, and dinner feels incomplete.