What kind of strange pear did we find halfway down the coast of Chile? Oh, it's not a real pear – it's an avocado! But it's easy to get the names mixed up. Another name for this fruit (the official name on its passport is Persea americana) is the 'avocado pear'. The plantation run by Roberto, our long-time grower, is full of them. And there we are, with Yexi, somewhere near the city of Hijuelas in Quillota Province.
Basket after basket is being filled with large green fruits. Green? But Roberto soon reassures us. ‘I know people are used to getting them 'ready to eat' in other countries. When we pick them from the trees here, they are still green. We package them green so that they can withstand the journey from Chile. Once they get to their destination, a substance in the avocado itself ripens the fruit so it's ready to eat. There's something else that makes avocados special, too. ‘We start harvesting them in July and continue until March. When the trees start flowering early, we can harvest avocados for nine months of the year!’
It looks as if the climate in Chile is perfect for avocados: the trees are full of fruits. Roberto hasn't been growing avocados for very long. ‘I didn't start until 2005. But avocados aren't our only product. We also grow oranges, tangerines, grapefruits and lemons. I founded an export company in 2009, because we saw opportunities in foreign markets. Like yours in Holanda!’ Yes indeed, we nod and agree we love those Chilean avocados.
The avocado is a bit of a crazy fruit. ‘Poco loco!’, Roberto smiles. After all, most fruits contain a lot of carbohydrates. Not the avocado: its dark skin almost explodes with the healthy fats, vitamins and other nutrients found inside. It contains just 3% carbohydrates, 1.4 grams of which is sugar. This makes them one of the healthiest fruits you can buy. Roberto: ‘Our Hass avocados are famous for this! But they're not only really good for you. My favourite thing to do with avocados is to make luscious guacamole. You can also put thin slices of avocado on bread or toast. Great, too, as a starter or side dish. I often put them in a salad or inside a tasty wrap. There are so many ways to use avocados in a salad.’
Meanwhile, the work continues in the vast fields. Once picked, the avocados disappear into a sorting machine. Box after box gets stacked up. Hey, what's that we see on that box? A Discovered label? Roberto smiles. ‘Yes, that one’s for you! You're lucky – the quality of the harvest this year is extra fine. Let us know how they taste when you get home, OK?' It’s a promise. Then it’s time to say good-bye to the friendly people in Chile. Adiós, Roberto!
This simple salad is enjoyed everywhere in Chile – even on the beach. It's delightfully refreshing, quite filling and – best of all – absolutely scrumptious. It’s also easy to make. What could be better?