What looked like fantastic autumnal shading was actually a cluster of pulsing wings. It was a trick of the eye. They were insects. Glorious black and orange insects—the colors of Halloween— and they had blanketed our community. I was 10 years old when I witnessed the Monarch Butterflies descending on Pacific Grove, California. Every fall, hoards of them travel 2,500 miles to winter in the coastal town. School age kids don costumes to celebrate—as if competing with nature’s blazing show—and march in the annual Butterfly parade. Indeed, we referred to our town as the “butterfly capital of the world” (although there’s a town in Florida that holds a prior claim).
We were, of course, competing with many other self-proclaimed capitals in California. Most are food-oriented—the garlic, citrus, blackberry, strawberry, date, and raisin “capitals of the world” dot the Golden State. We were well aware that Castroville, the artichoke capital, was just down the road. I was enchanted by the Butterflies—they gave Pacific Grove a fairy-tale quality. But butterflies aren’t food—no matter what they’re name implies. If I had been tempted by these other town festivals, I like to think I’d remain loyal to the Monarchs.
Unless, of course, we’re talking Fallbrook, California! Fallbrook would have to outstrip them all. For Fallbrook, my friends, is the Avocado capital of the world.
Ah, the avocado. Butter pear, alligator pear, love fruit, call it what you like. It is unique in flavor, texture, look, and possibilities.
I had a hard time when I was pregnant with DD—only bland, salty white foods would stay down. But when I entered the second trimester, the nausea passed and the cravings hit. Avocados were all I wanted. I ate them every single day. I’m surprised DD didn’t enter the world green. I love avocados on sandwiches (mmm BLATs), in salads, alone, and mashed up in the most perfect dish of all—guacamole.
With my Texas and California background, you can bet I’ve eaten my share of guacamole. Vats of it. Back in the 70s, my mom used to make it with lemon juice, garlic, and sour cream (and she’d even use mayo in a pinch). (Avocado green was the dominant theme of our living space, too--from the paint on the walls to the avocado plants my mother diligently nurtured from the leftover pits).
My own guacamole recipe has evolved over years:
(These measurements are guesses, since I usually eye-ball it)
2 ripe Haas Avocados
1/4 cup of chopped red onion
Juice from half (or whole) lime
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons of homemade salsa
(or 2 teaspoons of finely chopped jalapeno and ¼ Cup of diced tomato)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste