Friday 15 October 2010

Chile: An Avocado Love Story

The Chileans love their avocados. After all 33 miners were finally rescued in the early houses of yesterday, we ran a search on the foods they chose to eat for their first meals above ground for almost two months. No reports so far, but avocados are likely to feature. It’s one of the nation’s favourite fruits.

In Chile, it’s not uncommon to have an avocado for breakfast, mashed up, spread thickly on a slice of toasted bread and seasoned. Or later in the day, eaten in a large salad with dressing alongside some of the country’s other horticultural produce; or in a classic seafood cerviche – raw fish that is ‘cooked’ in lime juice and served with salad. With more than 4,300 km of coastline, the fish in Chile is fantastic.  

So, as with all the best export products, there is a huge domestic market for the Hass avocados that Chile is so good at producing. During the World Cup in 1998, McDonalds in Chile introduced the ‘McPalta’, a burger that contains pureed avocado. Although Chile exited in a 4-1 second-round defeat to Brazil, the legacy of the tournament remains – and the McPalta is still a staple fast food in the country.

One of the country’s other favourite convenience foods is the hot dog, which in addition to the usual ketchup, mustard and mayo, will always come offered with avocado.

Chileans are one of the world’s most prolific consumers of avocado, eating their way through approximately 4kg each every year. The country is second only to Mexico (where they eat 10 kgs each!).

As the winter approaches, Chile becomes the main source of avocados in Britain for several months. Hass is the main variety grown in the country, and is widely regarded as the best eating avocado you can buy. Recognise it by its dark knobbly skin, which darkens further as the fruit ripens.

For those who are concerned about carbon footprint or ‘food miles’ - you should read Monday’s blog!

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