AKA the Alligator Pear, butter pear, butter fruit, or avo. Our English word comes from the Spanish aguacate, which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word ahuakatl; in many countries in South America it more likely to be called a palta, from the Quechua word pallta.

Avocados are a green or black, pear-shaped fruit which usually has a rough, bumpy skin and always has a large seed in the middle (both skin and seed are inedible). The fruit in between is green, soft, and delicious. They are usually eaten with silverware rather than with bare hands. Popular seasonings include lemon juice or salt, and some people pepper them too. Avocados are probably best known in America as an ingredient for dips, particularly guacamole.

Avocados are native to South America, and although they have spread around the world in the past few centuries, most avocados are still exported from Mexico. In the USA we grow our own supply, the best-known avocado growing state being California.

Avocado trees grow fast and can reach up to 18 meters (80 feet) tall. They are evergreens (but not conifers), because they grow in tropical and semi-tropical climates. They have small yellow-green flowers, which are often hard to see against the foliage.

All avocados are high in oil. (The only fruit with more oil than avocados are olives). The average avocado contains about 35 grams of fat, mostly monounsaturated fat. They are also rich in potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin E.

Some Biology

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Persea
Species: americana

See also, Guacamole, Cukes, Coyo, Anay.

Avocado derives from the Aztec word, “ahuacatl”, meaning “testicle”, as it is a rather large, ellipsoid fruit. Spanish conquistadors carried avocados to Spain in the 16th Century, where it was given the Spanish name, “aguacate”, later muddled with another Spanish word, “bocado”, meaning “delicacy” which produced a shift in pronunciation giving rise to the word, “avocado”. Avocado also means “lawyer” or “advocate” in Spanish, but there is no relationship between these and the fruit.

The name avocado appeared in English at the end of the 17th Century. The English thought an avocado was some sort of pear and so dubbed it an “avocado pear”, but later began calling it an “alligator pear” for no other reason than that “alligator” was a more commonly known word than avocado.

Note: There are many varieties of avocados, some smooth-skinned, some coarse-skinned. As I have no idea which varieties appeared in 17th Century England, I deliberately stayed with the recorded etymology of the word I was able to find, rather than resorting to theories I could not confirm as to how or why the word "alligator" came to be used.

By the way, avocados are wonderful served halved, scored, and drizzled with shoyu (soy sauce).

The write-ups above make me wonder if anyone of them has ever seen a whole, unpeeled, avocado.

The term "alligator pear" comes from the simple fact that the avocado is shaped like a pear, and its skin has a visual resemblance to that of an alligator.

Avocados have a tough outer skin, soft flesh and a large pit (or "stone"). The flesh of the avocado is very rich and high in fat. Its flavor is unique, and I have difficulty comparing it to something else.

The flesh is very smooth with a velvety texture, this makes it a popular ingredient in rolled sushi (maki), dips and as a condiment on sandwiches.
Yes, some avocados are smoothed skinned, but still have a somewhat mottled color (shades ranging from yellow to green) still resembling that of a alligator.
The Best Thing To Do With An Avocado:


1 Ripe Avocado
Half a lemon/some pure lemon juice
Malt vinegar
Salt and pepper
A sharp knife
A hand-held mixer/a spoon, a bowl, and someone strong


Some bread, crackers or anything else considered coverable-in-spread.

Using a knife, cut the avocado into two halves (one of which should have the stone in it. Take it out. Now throw it away. Or throw it at someone, because it's damn heavy).

Scoop the flesh from both halves into a mixer or bowl. Add a touch of lemon juice and a drizzle of vinegar, a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper, and blend.

Next, scoop out the pale green gunk, and spread onto bread or other spreadable food. I realise that, at first glance, this looks suspiciously like Guacamole. It isn't, really. No, it really isn't.

Av`o*ca"do (?), n. [Corrupted from the Mexican ahuacatl: cf. Sp. aguacate, F. aguacat'e, avocat, G. avogadobaum.]

The pulpy fruit of Persea gratissima, a tree of tropical America. It is about the size and shape of a large pear; -- called also avocado pear, alligator pear, midshipman's butter.


© Webster 1913.

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