The Avocado Tale of Woe


I exposed what’s probably my greatest food weakness this week on Twitter: I don’t like avocado. Whenever someone finds out that I don’t care for avocado they’re surprised. Sometimes they seem disappointed. Sometimes they don’t believe me. “How can a food writer not like avocado?” they ask me.

After all, avocado gets turned into guacamole and who doesn’t love guacamole?! Me. Pass the salsa.

But don’t you want it sliced on your burger? No, I do not. Horrors.

Have you tried it eaten like it’s photographed above, on toast with a hit of acid and a grind of salt and pepper? Unthinkable. But I would love it if you happened to have a jar of peanut butter handy for me to spread on my bread instead.

The only Avocado I ever met and liked was a handsome green-eyed cat.

Though I know I don’t like avocado, for some reason I keep trying it. I think it’s the lesson from childhood — you can’t say you don’t like it until you’ve tried it — taken to the extreme.

So I’ve tried avocado about once a month, on average, for the past year or so, just in case I somehow might start liking it. I tried it again earlier this week, and I did because last time I tried it, on a chip from a bowl of guacamole a friend made, it maybe didn’t seem quite as awful. I won’t try it again, though, because about 20 minutes after dinner I had a horrible stomach ache — so bad that I went to bed at 7:30 p.m. I also had a bad feeling and taste in my mouth that lasted the whole night, even after vigorous tooth-brushing.

I took to Twitter in the wake of all this avocado suffering and wrote a post I would have reworded had I felt better:

@SBHOWH: “It’s official. I don’t like avocado and I’m not trying it ever again. #stomachache #igaveitafightingchance #blerg”

People responded in the usual way, including my friend Jeremy.

@whenwherehowe: @SBHOWH The food critic whose advice I’ve been following the whole time I’ve been in Omaha doesn’t do avocados. Mind: blown.

Our conversation turned to the more unusual from there: According to Jeremy, who is a doctor, my dislike of avocados may not just be in my head. It might be an actual allergy, one called “Oral Allergy Syndrome” where adults with hay fever (me!) have an allergic reaction in the mouth related to certain fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Now my mind was blown.

Jeremy said the allergy isn’t to avocados, specifically. Here’s how he put it:

“The fascinating thing about OAS is you wouldn’t be allergic to avocados, per se, but rather avocados are too similar to stuff you ARE allergic to. So it’s like your mouth/stomach getting hay fever.”

Avocados appear on the OAS allergy list under Birch pollen — I’m allergic to tons of pollen, grasses and weeds, so it makes sense this might be one, too. And also on that list are two other foods that I’ve never been fond of for unexplained reasons: Kiwi fruit (blech) and bananas, which are okay but which I definitely tend to avoid because they all give me a “weird mouth feeling.” And the stomach ache I had is another side-effect. It also makes sense that I liked avocados and bananas as a kid — OAS doesn’t kick in until adulthood.

Jeremy knew about OAS because he has it too — but his stems from canteloupe.

“I suffered Cantaloupe Hater’s Guilt (also a medical diagnosis, I’m a Dr., trust me),” he Tweeted,” before learning about OAS.”

“Might make a good blog post,” Jeremy also said. Little did he know, this long-time acute sufferer of Avocado Hater’s Guilt who finally found a cure was already typing.

Avocado photo credit

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