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Vintage California Cuisine: 300 Recipes from the First Cookbooks Published in the Golden State


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Avocado Cookbook

By Hensley Spain

Culinary History Section

The Route 66 Cookbook: Comfort Food from the Mother Road Deluxe 75th Anniversary Edition

By Marian Clark

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Introducing the Avocado to North Americans

Avocados used to be an oddball fruit that few consumers had seen or knew how to eat. A succession of avocado associations has worked hard since the early part of this century to change that.
The New Calavo Hostess Book
(Calavo Growers of California, 193

In the 1920s, fans of the fruit thought a catchy name would do the trick. They sponsored a contest, and 16 entrants came up with the winner: Calavo. The idea, recalls Jack Shepherd, president emeritus of the Calavo Growers of California (now named Calavo Growers Inc.), was to distinguish the California varieties from the Florida crop—and from the inferior avocados that many backyard gardeners were growing from seeds, giving the fruit a bad name.

The new variety of avocado was the product of "years of careful search in subtropical Latin America," proclaimed promotional literature published in the 1930s by the cooperative. Here, at last, was a variety worthy of being called "the aristocrat of salad fruits."

In 1932, the cooperative published a recipe pamphlet called "The New Calavo Hostess Book." For the most part, the recipes aren’t much more adventurous than "Calavo on the halfshell," your basic half of an avocado with lemon juice or onion juice, salt and pepper.

A recipe called "Calavonnaise" is a bit more ambitious. The mixture of a sieved avocado, a beaten egg yolk, salt, dried mustard and lemon juice is "a slenderizing, colorful and flavorful salad dressing the whole family will enjoy," containing only 32 calories per tablespoon, one-third the calories of mayonnaise, says the Hostess Book.

The book cuts loose on desserts, with an avocado-strawberry pie and the following, which we reprint arguably more for historical than culinary interest.

Avocado Ice Cream

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 quart milk
1 pint cream
2 cups ripe avocado pulp
1 egg, white only
1 cup finely sliced avocado

1. Boil the sugar and water until it forms a syrup, then add vanilla.

2. Mix syrup with milk and cream and put in freezer for 10 minutes until partially frozen.

3. Combine avocado pulp with egg white and beat well.

4. Blend avocado pulp and slices with milk mixture and freeze hard.

Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef