Proverbial pears

MY first encounter with avocado pears came during the general election of 1979 while watching BBC Nationwide with my father. I had never heard of the fruit until this rather well-to-do woman in a large house in Helensburgh was asked who she would vote for come polling day. She replied: “Well it won’t be Labour, because prices have risen to the point I can no longer afford avocado pears for my family.”

I recall my father shouting something uncomplimentary at the television but the memory is so vague the exact form of words escapes me. For several years I laboured under two misconceptions: that avocado pears resembled those big yellow fruit you see in Rupert Bear books, the ones that give you magical powers if you bite into them; and that Margaret Thatcher won the general election by using her contacts in the grocery business to inflate the price of avocados to an artificial high.

There’s a Sicilian proverb that states: a bountiful pear harvest means a shortage of everything else. You can read what you will into that. Speaking of proverbs, and digressing a minute, while shopping in Orgiva yesterday morning I saw a man lead a horse to water and attempt to make it drink. It was a perfect performance of the famous English proverb: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

The horse was tall and white – might even have been a mule – and laden with a huge bundle of grass or hay nearly as large as itself. Its owner led it to a drinking fountain outside the Guardia Civil building on the main plaza, and after taking a long draught of water himself, tried to coax the horse to thrust its nose into the fountain. The horse was having none of it. It was obviously familiar with the proverb and realised it was well within its rights to refuse.

So, avocado pears. It was several years before I actually tasted one, and I can’t say I was over-impressed. A bit strange, a bit bland, but okay for Helensburgh, I suppose. They grow them here in the Alpujarras and I have toyed with the idea of purchasing a couple of trees and having a go myself.

Then this afternoon providence stepped in while I was digging in the compost heap and delivered into my earthy hands two avocado stones that had sprouted and possessed a healthy appearance. If I’d attempted to sprout them myself I would have failed. Nature, though, has taken its course and bestowed on me a pair of tiny avocado trees. They have been potted-up and look splendid. Hope I’m not flogging a dead horse.

To end this piece, here is a German proverb I’ve just found on the internet: a ripe pear is more likely to fall in the shit than on clean ground. Can’t argue with that.

Yes, avocados aren’t really pears, but what the hell. According to Wikipedia, they are large berries. I don’t believe that for a minute.

Portuguese proverb: A house without a cat or a dog is the house of a scoundrel

12 thoughts on “Proverbial pears

  1. Had to laugh at the guy’s performance with the horse/mule/whatever – funny!

    I’ve thrown many an avocado stone into my compost but they’ve never sprouted 😦 They’re superbly nutritional and have nutrients more or less across the board. There’s 2 types – one I’m not so keen on (the thinner ones) but the darker, fatter ones are lovely. Richard says they taste like soap though! I suppose he has a point really.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carol. Wow, I didn’t realise they were packed full of nutrients. I shall look on them in a different light from now on. I think Richard has a point, though. Unless they’ve got a bit of mayo on and a few prawns, they do have a soapy taste. Mind you, I suppose cabbage is pretty bland by itself.
      Which of the two types these are I have no idea – and it’ll take a few years to find out, I suppose.
      Cheers, Alen


  2. They are also full of fat, but the kind of fat you need, not the kind of “bad fat” that “expert scientists” have been warning us against for decades.

    Hope that your fruit trees grow, blossom and bear delicious fruit in due course.

    Also, as for your pussy cat – glad to see that you are not a scoundrel…..



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Alan. If the cat proves I’m not a scoundrel, that’s good enough for me.
      I like the sound of “good fat”. There is a happy side of life after all. I wonder if scientists will ever find there is a “good alcohol” that our bodies need.
      Cheers, Alen


  3. Think I’ll buy a dog this weekend. Stop the gossiping. I wonder if that woman in Helensburgh was related to someone I once overheard saying ‘I wish I was unemployed, I’d have the time to do more travelling.’

    I don’t think I’ve ever eaten avocado or led a horse to water either. What a sheltered life.


    1. I would have thought a man with your background in horticulture, Chris, would have been taking avocado sandwiches to work for years. In fact, I was hoping you would call by because I wanted to ask how they grow them with the prawns and mayo already in the middle. I’ll have to call Gardener’s World.
      I think that must be the same woman in Helensburgh. I drove through it one wet day and thought that if I lived there I’d want to do more travelling. Just kidding. It’s probably a very nice place.
      Cheers, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I was a kid taking sandwiches to school they were either banana or crisps. An avocado butty; there must be an artisan sandwich shop somewhere serving them at £8 a slice.

        And they get the prawns and mayo in the middle by planting the seeds in compost that comes from Highgate.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Avocado is my favourite dish. But it must be perfectly ripe: Otherwise it tastes like soap 🙂
    One must check the fruit at the top, where it should be slightly pliable. You can mature them by putting them together with bananas and lemons.
    Did you know that there are formulas on the emission of heat from the compost piles?
    I was fascinated by the idea of a compost pile in Andalusia, where it’s a little warmer than in Denmark 🙂
    Hope you will succeed with the small plant!!!


    1. You always surprise me with your information, Hanna. I would never have thought of looking into the heat formula for the perfect compost heap.
      One thing I have learnt is that avocados do not ripen on the trees. You have to remove them before they become fit to eat.
      Cheers, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

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