When avocados are mentioned, recipes for guacamole inevitably follow. It may surprise you that the fruits are used in unexpected and varied ways all over the world (and yes, avocados are in fact, a fruit). Avocados, also called alligator pears for their green and rough skin, are found in many countries, but are favored in the warmer climates where they grow. When soft and ripe, they have a rich and creamy flesh that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.
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In North America, avocados have become a food staple because of their heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat content. They're a common addition to salads, soups, and sandwiches. In other countries, avocados are a popular dessert flavor, especially in rich and creamy puddings, ice creams, and shakes while some countries will use the avocado's creamy texture for a savory soup. And, of course, many countries serve the mashed fruit as a dip or condiment topping.
In Ethiopia, layered fruit juices, called spris, feature avocado purée. A common spri layers papayas, avocados, and mango purées. To make spris at home, place papaya in a blender with water; add to the bottom of a tall glass. Purée avocado with a little water, lime juice, and sugar; layer on top of papaya purée. Top both purées with blended mango. Serve with a slice of lime.
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In Brazil, avocados are prepared in a dish called creme de abacate, or avocado cream. The fruit’s smooth and delicate texture creates a luxurious sweet treat. In savory Brazilian dishes, avocados are halved and stuffed with ceviche, picadillo, or meat.
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When sushi made its way to California, a local sushi chef in Los Angeles substituted hard-to-find fatty tuna for avocados, and developed the California Roll, made of avocado, crab, and cucumber.
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In Mexican dishes, avocados are served as a condiment to counteract the spicy chilies that often garnish specialities like flautas, tacos, panuchos, and tortilla soup. Some Mexican foods, like black beans and grilled meats, even call for avocado leaves as a seasoning, with a taste that’s reminiscent of anise. To put an Oaxacan spin on guacamole, add the local specialty of dried grasshoppers, or
chapulines, for a crunchy and funky taste.
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Awaken your palate with some of these foreign avocado dishes at home, and be pleasantly surprised by the versatility of the avocado. Check out some of these dishes and be inspired to create something new and delicious with avocados. Move beyond the simple dip and take a new exotic twist on your next meal or snack made with avocados.
-- Victoria Barton, The Daily Meal
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