Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. I am a Gen-Z-Millennial cusp, and I do not like avocados. Or rather, I do not share my generation’s fanatical fetish for the green fleshy fruit. Done well, they’re fine. I could take them or leave them. Done badly, they taste like texture.
My mother and I are, for all intents and purposes, the same person. She, however, is disgustingly modern in her culinary tastes. She worships the avocado. Cutting through Soho Road in Birmingham, en route to an Arsenal away match at The Hawthorns, she bought an absolute beast of an avocado. A monstrous object of melon-like proportions, it resided on our work surface for a month awaiting ripening, before eventually turning rancid when it was tragically (but inevitably) forgotten. Who could bear to cut into it? More to the point, where could we find a bread receptacle large enough on which to spread it? I am devoting my article to the closest I have ever been to culinary bliss. Naturally, it involves an avocado.
“I am devoting my article to the closest I have ever been to culinary bliss. Naturally, it involves an avocado.”
Creatures of habit, we go every year to the same place on holiday and, rather uninspiringly, this entails that we go to the same restaurant. Imagine my mother’s disappointment, then, on opening her menu to discover that her beloved ‘crumble d’avocat’ had been removed. I am fully aware that the words ‘crumble’ and ‘avocado’ do not commonly enter into semantic association. Let me first preface this narrative with a small lesson in phonetics. We are in France and, naturellement, custom dictates that we pronounce things à la française. The first syllable is generally ok. Slide into your best heavily stereotyped, if ever so slightly culturally insensitive, accent and you’re onto a winner. Bonus points if you can master the ‘r’. The last syllable, however, requires a contortion unpalatable to the English tongue. Place the vowel between the consonants and make it rhyme (ish) with ‘strut’, all the while maintaining your accent. Voilà. Crumbuhl.
This is a crumble like no other. Infused with a hint of ginger, it forms a disc shaped hat to the rest of the dish. Thick but sandy, larger rounded nuggets break off with the action of your fork. It is, in my opinion, the star of the show. Beneath this roof sits a generous layer of avocado, delectably smooth and pale in colour. Drizzled with curry oil, a bold but not overpowering kick, it certainly does not taste like texture. For the girl whose favourite meals are breakfast and pudding, this could never fail to be a hit.
“For the girl whose favourite meals are breakfast and pudding, this could never fail to be a hit.”
Then comes the crab. As a second year, I translated a piece of prose devoted entirely to food. Collectively, we floundered on a seemingly useless and untranslatable bit of vocabulary: the quenelle. I am grateful to my second-year self for retaining this word, for it now comes in handy. Traditionally referring to a mixture of creamed meat, bound with egg, and formed into a domed shape, today the quenelle more commonly suggests a shape rather than a substance. Fans of Instagram food feeds will no doubt have watched in awe as ice cream is scooped, curved and smoothed into what can only be described as an elongated egg with points. Nestled alongside my crumble, lie two quenelles of creamy crustacean. So tender and so delicate, they offset perfectly the potential clagginess of the avocado. Some decorative herbs lie strewn across the top, but if I’m being honest they don’t add all that much. Maybe some coriander, but we all know this is essentially edible soap.
They say that the winning combination is sweet, salty and fatty. As an addict of sweet and salty popcorn, which I shovel into my mouth by the handful like some sort of frenzied farmyard animal, I know this only too well. Despite our initial disappointment, it thankfully made an appearance before the end of our holiday and peace was restored in our family. I think my mother may even have ordered it as a starter and a main.
Image credit – stockcatalog