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Nothing Is Better than a Native Avocado

While walking by the Paradero Amauta across the Street from Mariscal Gamarra, we discovered a woman who sold a variety of fruits, pineapple, banana, papaya, cherimoya, apples, mandarins, oranges, and more.  Besides these she had a supply of native avocados.

My good friend David, who always visits us, got excited from seeing that variety.  He said that in the United States this kind of avocado is not found. He insists that the flavors of the avocados found there are not as good even if well known.  “How about we buy one to tray it”, he asked.

The casera, the vendor, was well put together with her hair braided like the women of yesteryear and with a colorful apron on.  She said the native avocados, paltas here, had just arrived from Abancay and that they were creamy and very tasty.

Paltas entre otra fruta en la carreta (David Knowlton)
Paltas entre otra fruta en la carreta (David Knowlton)

We bought one for 3 soles. She told us to select among a variety of sizes but David asked her to give us one that was ripe enough to eat today but that might last to tomorrow. By running them through her hands, the vendor found and gave us one that seemed the best.

“it was very creamy, better than the Fuerte, just as the lady said,” claimed David, satisfied. “This avocado would make a wonderful guacamole.”

In Cusco they serve a variety of dishes with avocado, though this variety is not much used. The native avocados are disappearing fro our markets as the years go by.

When I was a boy and would go with my mother to the market, I would see this variety in the stands. Now is not like it used to be.  Few ask for it and only those that know a good avocado will enjoy it.

The native avocado has a delicate flavor and the color of its flesh is like that of a ripe lime, yellowish and yet still light green.  Inside it has a big seed that is round like the fruit itself. Its skin is dark, like a well-brewed coffee.  It is harder and yet the fruit is more fragile than other, more commercial varieties, such as Fuerte and Haas.

Palta Nativa de Abancay (Hebert Huamani Jara)
Palta Nativa de Abancay (Hebert Huamani Jara)

This avocado came to Cusco from nearby Abancay. In the traditional markets of the city, such as San Pedro, Wanchaq, Ttio, and Cascaparo, as well as in grocery stores and supermarkets you seldom see native avocados any more.

The reasons argued are that this fruit is more fragile and delicate in shipping than the other varieties. That is part of why its price is also a little higher than the others. Of course price depends on size. Small ones that fit in a 10 year-old child’s hand run from 2-2.50 soles while the larger ones that fit into a grownup’s hand run 3-3.50 each.

To eat a good avocado with a dish such as one with rice or something fried is a delight. That is why it is great to try the variety of avocados that come to our city.  Each one has a different flavor.  Some are soft and creamy while other are hard and sweet.  Nevertheless, the ones you most commonly find are the Fuerte and the small, seedless avocados.

The flavor of the native avocado was delicate yet delicious. It can easily be added to other dishes or can be eaten alone, as we did, with just a tough of salt and maybe lime juice.  It is a treat.



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