Monday 11 October 2010

A brief history of avocado

The Hass avocado got its name from the Californian postman who bought the first seedling tree of this variety in 1920. 

Just one of the facts you stumble across when you research the history of the avocado.

People believe that the name avocado is derived from the Aztec word ‘Ahuacatl’, which means testicle, thought to be a reference to the way the fruit commonly grows in pairs on the tree. The Aztecs used the fruit as an aphrodisiac.

At the time the Spanish arrived in Latin America, avocados were grown from northern Mexico, throughout Central America and from north-western South America and Venezuela, and as far south as the Peruvian Andes. Later, farmers in Chile also began growing avocados.

The Spanish called the avocado aguacate – the word still used today – a word that is a corruption of the Aztec word. It was first used by conquistador Martin Fernandez de Enciso in the Fifteenth Century.

Avocados were also grown in the Caribbean. On a visit to Jamaica at the end of the 17th Century, King Charles II wrote about his newfound love of the avo. By the next century, sailors began referring to it as ‘Midshipman’s Butter’ as they were using it as a longer lasting spread for their bread.

It was introduced to the US in 1833.

You can get lots more detail about the history of the avocado at:

(On this site, there are also some useful tips for preparing an avocado - using an incredibly large kitchen knife!)

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