“Unlike hatred, this is smooth, rich and non-threatening”

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Inside you are two avocados. One is a magnificent emerald nugget. His skin ripples over his perfect egg shape with the gnarled branches of an ancient tree. It fades from forest green to midwinter black, its flesh the pale sage of a childhood crayon. And he wears his heart open: what is soft on the outside is also soft on the inside.

The other avocado is an angry rock.

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Nobody likes Shepard avocados. Not really. For a few weeks every year in March, anxiety spreads across social media – perhaps in society at large – as we realize that despite everything modern science has done for us, we will be stress-free for a short time . I contributed to this panic by snapping photos at the first sign of it and tweeting a warning: Sorry friends, the bad season is here.

But I can feel something changing inside me.

I don’t know if it’s the pandemic slowly gnawing at my brain or my taste buds maturing with age, but against all odds I’ve become a reluctant Shepard fan.

One day I found myself in the shops, even more panicked than usual. Overnight crates of gnarled alligator pears had been replaced en masse by their fearsome cousins. The Shepards’ glossy skin reflected the fluorescent supermarket lights right into my eyes.

Eat nowShe promised a label. I pressed the fruit with low expectations — it was so hard it could be used to crush a bug, inflict blunt force trauma, or build a house.

I had two choices: I could make a chicken and mayo sandwich without avocado — effectively a betrayal — or I could buy one that had been pressure-formed in the center of the earth and hope for the best. I put a Shepard in my basket.

When I got home, I asked a friend who knows food. Could I, a mere human, eat – and to this point digest – one of those Botox-Avos?

“You can’t eat it now,” she said, “but leave it out for a few days.”

“Like in an incubator?”

“Nope. On the bench.”

“Oh,” I said. “In a paper bag with a banana. I read about it.”

“Not a banana. Outdoors.”

I was skeptical. A Hass avocado left on the workbench would quickly become stringy and inedible. Also, could I risk falling and causing a concussion?

I set my Shepard in the corner by the spice rack and stuffed it with bottles of cayenne, porcini, and garlic powder so it couldn’t become a weapon. I told my kids not to touch it. I took a picture of it so I can measure the progress. Then for three days I diligently looked for signs that it could be tasty. Day one: hard as a precious jewel. Day two: firm as a chiseled butt. But then, day three: a tiny squeeze. I squeezed it again to make sure.

I FaceTimed my friend. “Is that right?” I asked, trying to show her the microns of movement in the shiny fruit.

Related: Hold the toast! 10 delicious avocado recipes – from latkes to juicy lime cheesecake

“I literally can’t see anything you’re doing.” But, she assured me, if it gave even the slightest bit, it would ripen on the inside. “You will love it. It’s heaven.”

I got my sharpest knife. It slid through skin as if it were nothing, then sliced ​​from stalk to base with tiny resistance. I twisted the two halves; flesh flawless inside, as if painted on. Not a stringy bit in sight. No bruise, no fiber, no blemish.

“It’s perfect,” I said to my cat. I removed the pit, being careful to avoid avocado hand. Although the chicken and mayo sandwich it was intended for was long since eaten, my Shepard avocado was finally absolutely perfect.

Removing the (perfect) seed left a (perfect) bowl, just right for a little olive oil, a pinch of pink salt, and a bit of black pepper. I took my makeshift breakfast to the back porch, scooped the green goodness into my spoon, and wrapped my laughing gear completely around the greatest culinary treat since I’ve poured milk straight into the Milo can.

Unlike the nasty, gristly bits of hatred, this avo was smooth, rich, and nonthreatening. Thick like pudding but savory like mushrooms. Imagine crème caramel, but wonderful.

“Incredible,” I said to my friend. “Who knew?”

I tweeted that I was the first person to ever enjoy a Shepard avocado in history, and many people have told me they have too. Like butter, they said. You just have to let them mature.

Without hate, it can feel like a long, dark autumn, but I’ve learned there’s a viable alternative.

Shepherds simply need time to themselves to be at their best. And really, we don’t all do that.

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