Where a pear is not a pear….

If you ever find yourself in Cameroon (major exports: oil, soccer players), and you ask a local for a pear, they will hand you an avocado. You’ll be hard-pressed to find what the western world identifies as pear over there. Fortunately, avocados in Cameroon are a pleasant treat. When they’re in season, the avocados are amazing–so rich, they almost taste buttery. Honestly, I have yet to taste a better species of avocado, and believe me when I say I’ve tried many.

The last time I was in Cameroon, back in 2006, my sister and I wound up in a small city called Dschang, in the West province. We ended up at a relative’s house during the rainy season for about a week. As with many households in Cameroon, we had household help, in the form of two young women who were meant to cook, clean and basically dote on us. At that time, being western-raised kids, having people answer our every beck and call for a week was pretty awkward (since then I have gotten used to it!), so if we wanted a snack, we’d go into the kitchen and make one.

The most readily-available thing to eat in the house were avocados… so we made some a-mazing guacamole. Every. Single. Day. We ate it on and with everything – with omelettes, on bread, on crepes, on plantains, on rice, you name it. I think we may have even eaten it with fufu and okra. Most of the time my sis and I were alone in the house with the house help, and our little cousin who eventually started to take a liking to the guacamole. One day toward the end of the week, our relatives came home, and checking on the state of the house, asked the house help about us. I overheard the conversation they were having in the kitchen:

Relative: “How are they doing? Are you feeding them well?”

House help: “Yes, they are eating.”

Relative: “What are you feeding them?”

House help: “Well, uncle, they’re a little strange… all they want to eat is mashed pear.”

My sister and I rofl-coptered after hearing that response. I guess we succeeded in making our mark as the eccentric foreigners in the small town of Dschang. Those avocados were well worth being called weird over.

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Anyway, fast forward to today. My cousin arrived from Dschang and came bearing fruit, in the form of avocados!  A few of them were picked before they were mature enough, so even though they were ripe, they tasted a bit watery and bland. The few that were good produced some amazing guacamole, of course.

The recipe I used is from allrecipes.com… it’s been a family favourite for a few years now. These days, I don’t really stick to the recipe quantities, I just dump things in (yes, it’s as unceremonious as it sounds) until it tastes right, and substitute ingredients when I don’t have them. If you’re looking for an upgrade above the original recipe, use red onion instead of white onion. My sister likes to add a bit of mayo to make it creamier. I kind of think it’s unnecessary, since avocado is full of (healthy) fat anyway, and these ones are very buttery, but try the mayo for something different.  

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