Stephen Jardine: Forget avocados - let’s hear it for the sprout

The avocado used to be restricted to an appearance in prawn cocktail, but now it is everywhere. Picture: PA
The avocado used to be restricted to an appearance in prawn cocktail, but now it is everywhere. Picture: PA
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The avocado might be fashionable but it is the ultimate bland food says Stephen Jardine

Twenty years ago, there was only one possible use for an avocado. Like a tiny green canoe, it was the classic receptacle for a prawn cocktail. With the stone and flesh scooped out it held the sauce well and also looked a little bit exotic. Then came the revolution.

Suddenly a staple of suburban dinner parties was the favourite food of every fashionable millennial. For that we have to thank Peru’s Avocado Producer’s Association. In the 1990s the UK market was worth about £13million. Then the growers decided to invest in marketing and smart promotional campaigns which introduced the avocado to a new generation. As result the sector is now worth about £142 million and has been growing at 30 per cent every year.

On top of that, the avocado must be the world’s luckiest fruit. Just as someone was overhauling it’s image, health experts looked again at its reputation for being high in fat and calories and decided not all fat is bad and the nutrients justify the calories.

The final factor in the great avocado makeover was the arrival of social media. Bacon rolls don’t photograph well but the avocado’s jolly green appearance made it the must-order accessory for anyone wanting to Instagram or tweet their brunch. This summer it was the most pinned food on Pinterest and it cropped up on Instagram 3.5 million times.

Which is just as well because chefs were also waking up to the fact that avocados are so versatile they can appear smashed on toast at breakfast, bulking out a salad at lunch and even in ice cream to finish dinner. The avocado is everywhere; so popular that thieves in New Zealand were this week stealing them to sell online.

So what’s not to like? Just one thing – they don’t actually taste of anything at all. Avocados are the ultimate bland food, dull and inoffensive but impossible to get excited about. When you eat an avocado you always thing the same thing, ‘is that it ?’. Closely followed by, ‘this needs more salt.’

However that doesn’t matter because the avocado boom is about fashion not food. People order smashed avocado, feta and poached eggs because it sounds a lot more hip than a white morning roll with square sausage and tomato ketchup. It is the ultimate dim fad for people who need to eat but care more about social media and fashion than they do about food.

Thankfully, the end is nigh. We’ve passed peak avocado, which probably came this summer, sometime between Miley Cyrus getting her avocado tattoo and London’s first avocado bar opening for business in, where else of course, Shoreditch. It offers a variety of filled buns, an avocado burger and even avocado seeds you can plant at home – for a pound. On top of that, doctors started reporting a rise in injuries to ham fisted millenials, unable to prise the stone from the flesh without doing themselves an injury. Add in a world shortage of avocados resulting from poor harvests and the only way is down.

Fittingly, the final nail in the coffin takes us back to where it all began. A coffee bar in Australia has started serving up avolattes, using the shell as a cup to hold a black coffee topped with foaming milk. That is probably no more ridiculous than filling it with prawns, marie rose sauce and lettuce but one is our food heritage and the other is nonsense so I know which will live on.

With the avocado craze over, we can turn attention to other foods more deserving of a makeover. Step forward the humble #BrusselSprout- the global internet phenomenon starts here.