Avocado | What's that?
Also known as ‘alligator pears’ because of their colour and texture, avocados originated in southern Mexico. Today, they are grown in warm and tropical climates around the world. Avocado trees are part of the laurel family. They are evergreen, fast-growing, and start producing green avocado fruit after 10 years.
Avocados are the key ingredient in the Mexican speciality guacamole, often eaten as a dip with tortilla chips, crisps or meat. The avocado is actually classified as a berry. It is rich in nutrients and has a high fat content. In addition to its use as a foodstuff, the oil from its fruit is now used in numerous skincare products on account of its high levels of linoleic acid.
When the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés overthrew the Aztec rulers in the 16th century, he ordered them to bring forth their most valuable treasures. Alongside their gold, jewellery and sculptures, the Aztecs brought him their precious avocados.
The fruit didn’t look much like treasure at first glance – but the Spanish soon came to value the avocado as a quick source of energy and as a treatment for stomach complaints. An avocado contains twice as many nutrients as a banana, but this ‘butter fruit’ only became available in European supermarkets in the 20th century.
Fascinating fact: in around 1900, the avocado became the namesake of an internationally beloved liqueur: Advocaat. Invented by Eugen Verpoorten, the drink was based on a South American beverage made with avocado, alcohol and brown sugar.
Verpoorten was unable to find avocado to make his drink in Europe, so the master distiller used egg yolk instead – thus producing the famous egg-based drink.