There is more than one kind of avocado, as you will realize on a walk through the local farmers’ markets.
What’s available in mainland cities is only the small variety, once known as an “alligator pear,” that’s grown in Southern California and Florida. But because those places don’t have a particular fruit-fly that lives in Hawaii (though they have their own fruit-flies!) you can’t buy a Hawaiian avocado on the mainland, or take one back with you.
Well, that just leaves more for us, here. And we enjoy at least three major varieties: the little “pear” of course, with its thin green or brown skin; a larger version that can sometimes approach a football in size; and a round, softball-size avocado with a thick rind. They all grow almost everywhere on the Big Island, though Kona seems to produce the largest ones. And while most varieties are bright yellow-green inside, the meat of those “softballs” is darker, and nuttier in taste.
When an avocado is slightly soft to the touch, it’s ready to eat. And it’s always eaten raw. Try one on the half-shell with a spoon, seasoning it with salt and pepper, or with Japanese furukake, or even with ketchup (really!) Most people slice an avocado for sandwiches, or mash and spice it up for guacamole. An avocado can be heated, as (for example) an omelet filling; but unlike almost every other fruit, it simply can not be cooked, canned or preserved.
It can, however, be sweetened. Euell Gibbons, the late naturalist, was fond of making Avocado Chiffon Pie in a graham-cracker crust. His is a standard chiffon recipe (egg yolks, milk, sugar and gelatin, heated to boiling, then cooled), to which he adds mashed avocado pulp, cools it again, and folds in stiff-whipped egg whites. As he says in his book Beachcomber’s Handbook, “Don’t dismiss the avocado as a dessert fruit until you have tried this fluffy, delectable pastry.”