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The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
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is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 04.13.05
Montreal

GREG DUNCAN

How to prepare Aztec testicles, otherwise known as avocados

Recently I wrote of getting ready for swimsuit season by attempting to eat foods that may help trim a few calories. Unfortunately, I didn't practice what I preached this week myself.

We still had loads of Easter goodies lying around just waiting to be eaten and waste not want not is my motto. My neighbor, who arrived toting some chocolate cake from her Easter feast, didn't help me. She didn't want to have it tempting her further so it was banished to the Foodie next door, as is often the case. Thanks for the help, friend, and be sure I'll return the favor soon.

Enter the Avocado as this week's topic. I have an avocado lover in the house who will soon (hopefully) be wearing a bikini while munching a healthy and tasty snack on the porch.

There are a lot of folks who shun this delicately flavored item as they simply do not know what to do with them. Sure, there is the all-important guacamole recipe that satisfies but many avoid buying them because they don't have a great shelf life and usually require immediate attention.

I'll provide some background followed by some inspiration that will allow you to choose, prepare, and enjoy this creamy treat.

History

It is evident from miscellaneous reports by Spanish Conquistadores that, at the time of the Spanish conquest, avocados were grown from northern Mexico south through Central America into north-western South America and south in the Andean region as far as Peru (where the avocado had been introduced shortly before the conquest), as well as into the Andean region of Venezuela.

The Aztecs used the avocado as a sex stimulant -- the Aztec name for avocado was ahuacatl, meaning "testicle." In the pre-Incan city of Chanchan archaeologists have unearthed a large water jar, dated around 900 AD, shaped like an avocado.

Purchasing & Using Avocados

Avocados must be used when fully ripe. They do not ripen on the tree and are rarely found ripe in markets. Fresh avocados are almost always shipped in an unripe condition. Purchase them 2 or 3 days in advance.

Test for ripeness by cradling an avocado gently in your hand. Ripe fruit will be firm; yet will yield to gentle pressure. If pressing leaves a dent, the avocado is very ripe and suitable for mashing. They are best served at room temperature.

When you buy hard, green, unripe avocados, store them at room temperature until they soften.

Seeding & Peeling Avocados

Start by cutting the avocado lengthwise around the seed. Then cup it between palms of hands and gently twist halves apart. Tap seed with sharp edge of knife. Gently lift or pry seed out.

Avocados are easy to peel when ripe. Peel the fruit by placing the cut side down and removing the skin with a knife or your fingers (start at the small end and remove the skin), or simply scoop out the avocado meat with a spoon.

TIP: Sprinkle lemon or limejuice over peeled avocados to prevent discoloring

Avocado & Mozzarella Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

2 Avocados-cut in " cubes
6 oz Mozzarella-cut in " cubes
4 lg Tomatoes-vine ripened

Dressing

5 lg Cloves garlic-chopped
1 Tbsp Basil-fresh chopped
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 t Dijon mustard
4 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp White wine
Red leaf lettuce for garnish
Garlic chives for garnish

Instructions

1. Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out insides.
2. Set each half on top of lettuce-garnished plate.
3. In a blender, add garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, and oil and white wine.
4. Blend and adjust according to taste.
5. Toss with Avocado and Mozzarella cubes until completely coated.
6. Stuff tomatoes with mixture and garnish with garlic chives stuck into tomatoes.

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