Now, even here, avocados are picked before they fully ripen otherwise they just fall from the tree at inopportune times. We worry about any of us (animals included) being under the tree at the wrong time. Those fruit are hard and heavy! About three days before they are ripe the avocados take on a shiny sheen. That's when you pick them. If you hold them and shake the fruit, sometimes you'll hear the nut rattling about but not always. Over the next few days the skin (of this particular variety) starts to turn purplish in colour and the fruit softens a bit. They're ripe.
But it seems I wasn't paying attention because I thought all the picked fruit was going to go away. Now we have more than a wheelbarrow full that is all going to be ripe in three days! The neighbors had already received their share so Wifey decided we would give them away to the waterfront restaurants. And so we did. Wheelbarrow leading the way and dogs in tow we apportioned the bounty from one end of the boardwalk to the other providing at least 7 avocados to 9 restaurants, with 2 of them, our special friends, getting more than double that each. At 5 pesos per avocado (about US 40 cents) they all appreciated the regalo (gift) and we had fun surprising them and walking about.
The dogs were especially excited as they don't get out all that much. It is a bit unusual for dogs to be walked on a leash down here. The exception is usually some little "pocket dog" that could just as easily slip into a purse or shoulder bag. But Khan and Annie were well behaved and only a few children had to warned away. A few days earlier whilst moving the trash can outside the fence, I had left the gate open. Khan doesn't try to leave the yard if he knows I'm coming right back in. But at that moment a young boy came running towards me. Khan misinterpreted and rushed the child. From the look on his face and bared teeth, it wasn't for a hug. Fortunately I was between the two and managed to grab the barking and snarling Khan before he could get away. Scared me and the kid but on the other hand, now the word is out this dog can be dangerous!
Earlier that day we had visited with Bienvenido and Anna. He's from northern Spain and she's from Belize. Wonderful folk who live with his mom on a nice property not far away. He's an avid arborist and woodworker, she's a massage therapist and budding chef. While I was there he was slicing up some monster logs in his workshop. He builds doors and furniture of varied sorts. One day I'll have to remember my camera and document the operation. Anna regaled us with some "Pressure-Cooker Duck" as she called it, pita bread, and some delicious and yes, homemade, Mango Chutney. To quench our thirst she offered a smoothie made with whole limes, celery, young prickly pear leaves, parsley, and sugar. Wow - it's delicious. Were it only later in the day, a touch of gin or rum would have been a crowning touch! Anna says it's also fantastic with pineapple. I can't wait to practice but first I need the young prickly pear leaves from the seeder plants Bienvenido gave us.
It took all afternoon and evening yesterday for those prickly pear spines to disappear from my hands. Not the first time I've handled them but I was so pre-occupied with the woodworking operation (did I mention he had a 16 foot long wood lathe?!?!) that I handled the cactus leaves far longer and without due consideration for the spines. Just one of Mother Nature's gentle reminders we all need from time to time...
Here's a quick and easy side dish or appetizer if you ever see some nice mushrooms...
1 lb firm fresh white mushrooms
2 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 pinch grated nutmeg
1/4 cup heavy cream
Splash of dry white wine
1/2 TBS soy sauce
Melt butter, add mushrooms to render liquid, then add salt, pepper, and nutmeg, cover and cook 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms and add cream, wine, and soy to the pan. Boil and reduce by half. Return mushrooms to pan, heat quickly, and serve!