Monday, 13 December 2010

The Avocado : Rekindling The Past!

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

I went to buy a few items from a nearby supermarket last Sunday, when my eyes fell on these avocados. I leaped with joy because these fruits are sooooo scarce in the part of Africa where I find myself today, whereas they were a common feature of my diet in my native Cameroon. Seeing those avocados brought a torrent of childhood memories which pushed me to write.

By the way, I am not used to calling this fruit avocado! I grew up calling them pears surely because we were taught in primary school to call them that way. It's been difficult to wipe that off but my daughter is working hard to get me there.

"It’s avocado not pear mama, that's what my teacher said," she says each time I ask her to have some pears. I guess I really need to get it into my head. However, for this post, I would enjoin you to permit me call it pear like I did while growing up.

I remember how my parents, my brothers, sisters and I all loved having pear and bread for breakfast. In fact we happily opted for pears rather than butter when we had both of the on the breakfast table.

Then, there were those days we used to call “twenty-hungry” – when the month was dragging to an end and most or all of the food items were finished. The dry days when butter was hard to find on the breakfast table; talk less of chocolate, cheese, mayonnaise or eggs.

Pears often came in handy. They were available and cheaper. My mother used to buy so much of it from the local markets at a giveaway price. We sometimes harvested them from our farms. We would wait impatiently for them to get ripe for eating.

And pears could accompany anything! Bread, soaked garri (drinking/cold water garri), roasted cocoyams or plantains or corn, miondo/bobolo and, oh My God, pear and plum (safou)!

Sadly, when I got to secondary school (boarding school) I realised that pears were labeled. They were called "the poor-student's-catalyst". Accordingly, students who came from less-affluent homes could only afford pears (avocado) as a bread spread (catalyst) during breakfast.

Meanwhile, the rich students often spiced their breakfast with “delicacies” like chocolate spread, sardines, margarine, cheese, jam, peanut butter in addition to what the school provided for breakfast.

Whatever the case, I loved pears and even when I had some margarine, I didn't mind having some pears, as well. Now that I can afford a variety of items for breakfast, I still have a craving for pears.

Looking back, I wish I ate pears (avocados) every single day given the food values you can derive from the fruits. Today, I can barely find them. When I do, they cost so much.

7 comments: said...

Très bon blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow! And I remember in college when we had pears with fried rice and nothing else weeks. Sweet old memories superbly recast.

Eugene N. Nforngwa said...

Wow! And I remember in college when we had pears with fried rice and nothing else weeks. Sweet old memories superbly recast.

J. McLeod said...

We love avocados in my house.We make salad dressing and salad dip with them..I also eat them with shrimp..but that was before both me and my daughter discovered we have shellfish allergies..bummer! But one of the best things that I like about avocados, is that the pit makes a beautiful plant. Submerge the pit half-way in water, sit it in a window and watch the roots grow, and when you have a plant about 5-6 inches tall, put it in a flower pot..I did that five years ago and my now avocado tree gave 2 fruits this summer... Cheers!

mabsfominyen said...

I see we all love pears (avocados).
Thank you all for sharing.

Eugene, did you say pear and fried rice only? Guess I should try that too.

J. McLeod,
Great feedback! I am surely going to follow the advice.Can`t wait to give it a try!


Ngens said...

Woah Mabs, now i'm really home sick. I miss "butter Pear" as we called the really good ones. I faced the same pear/avocado dilema when i moved to the US. Pear & cassava...the best. In my venecular, we had a saying that "casara bong ne pia mba" Meaning, casava tastes great with pear. Rice, bread, cocoyams, 'cold water garri',salad are the things MUST try eating with pear. Yummy! Thanks for the piece

mabsfominyen said...

Hey little sister Ngens,

You got me laughing all morning with the nice souvenir "casara bong ne pia mba". Makes me think of our famous "Auntie Ntelah", She used to bring some of those "butter pear" for us.

I Remember pears had different names depending on how delicious they tasted or just how they looked.
Butter pear;smooth,thick: simply the best ones
Water-water-pear; not so thick, a bit watery
Bitter-pear;those that were harvested prematurely and forced to get ripe(by putting them in the bag)
Sick pears:those very small ones with many dots on them(hardly really tasted good).