For people who lived through wartime rationing, it’s probably bananas. But, for my generation, it’s the avocado pear that’s the ultimate symbol of luxury and creamy indulgence. When I was a child they were such a rarity that I can actually recall eating my first one. When my elder sister turned 18, my mother marked the occasion by serving the family with half an avocado each for supper. I remember her ripening them in the airing cupboard. 

Eating an avocado pear was a statement event, an engagement with a piece of exotica shaped like a light bulb but with the most delicious taste. They were things to be treated with awe and respect, and given special time to mature in the fruit bowl. Hell, we even treasured their stones, which were urged to reproduce by being placed within a glass jar specially furnished with matchsticks and cotton wool. 

Posh bathrooms were decorated in their colour. Who would boast about having a “cauliflower” or an “asparagus” en suite? But an “avocado” one? Ooh, Monsieur. I have absolutely zero proof of this, but I suspect the name of the delivery company serving high-end online supermarket customers was devised because of its faint ring of the pear and its attendant references of luxury, health and wealth.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

And now pictures of avocados are more popular on Pinterest than camel coats, successful DIY projects or Cornish holidays, and McDonald’s is considering serving them as part of its “breakfast offer”. How on earth did that happen? How did the avocado become as ubiquitous as the banana, served up in every burger, offered in every salad and present on every breakfast menu? 

As a committed fan, I am obviously thrilled that my avocado needs might be met by my local Maccy D’s, but there is a bit of me which mourns the transformation of this high-end delicacy from heralded birthday treat to quotidian fast-food fodder.

It is as if champagne were to suddenly become an everyday experience... oh, that’s already happened. Nobody waits for a celebration these days in order to justify bubbles, as sales figures from Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Tesco attest. We basically know we are worth it, and live as if we are, every single day. 

Our perspective on excess has shifted; even children’s parties reflect it. Pass The Parcel, that most moderate of party games, must now have two or three packages in circulation at once, lest a child might become bored for two seconds, and each wrapping of course should hold a gift. The idea of opening some paper without something inside? Are you joking?

Meanwhile, parents scour the Christmas shops for stocking “fillers” priced at £20 and only look slightly aghast at the much-shared photograph of the hoard of 400 presents amassed this year by some lunatic mother for her three children. The pile is so colossal that the Christmas tree, around whose trunk they cluster, only peeks out at the top. Check it out. 

Does this mean we are all going to hell in a £800 Mulberry handbasket? Is the Avocado Barometer a sign that we are all becoming just too indulged, too spoilt, too ready to reach for luxury without working for it first? In London some parents pay £10 an hour for music students to come to their house and practise with their children. The Banana Generation (my parents, basically) would probably say we are very over-privileged. Possibly we are. 

Children ought to practise the piano themselves – but as far as avocados are concerned, the more the merrier. I know that avocado over-production might be ruinous for global water supplies, and that their importation probably adds to pollution levels. But if we can just park those two concerns for a minute, isn’t it rather brilliant that you can get what was once an unattainable luxury from your corner shop, for a mere pound? The “democratisation” of the avocado – as this it surely must be, given its arrival on the menu of the “Scottish Restaurant” – should be applauded. Why should this glorious thing, with its healthy fats and leathery, pockmarked skin acting as the perfect plate for a heavenly interior, be the reserve of the few and not the pleasure of the many? Avocado ice-cream toast is apparently very popular on Pinterest, after all.

Comments

Share your thoughts and debate the big issues

Learn more
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Create a commenting name to join the debate

Please try again, the name must be unique Only letters and numbers accepted
Loading comments...
Loading comments...
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Loading comments...
Loading comments...