Oh the avo. The fruit that launched a thousand tweets. This millennial Holy Grail has done more to divide generations than anything save perhaps Brexit.
It has been three years since Australian property developer Tim Gurner became a hate figure for suggesting in a TV interview that it was not economic difficulty that was keeping millennials from getting on the housing ladder but a tendency to spend $19 on smashed avos for brunch. Millennials vented their anger in the only way they know how—by twitter tirade. Perhaps it would have been more fitting to pelt Tim with over-ripe avos for his audacity.
To eat avocado on toast in public is now as bold and unequivocal a statement one can make on their position in the contemporary culture wars. Millennials will happily part with a crisp, tallow-rich tenner for their feed, all the while secretly berating themselves for their improvidence. If it’s not the expense that brings on the guilt then it’s the fact they’re purportedly bad for the planet.
But what of avo toast in the post-covid age? As restaurants re-open are we about to see a return to avocado frenzy, or will the looming recession and belated discovery of the joy of home cooking by the under 30s lead to new eating out habits?
There is some reason to think the curtain might be about to fall on the brunch staple, at least when it comes to eating out. When a restaurant meal is a rarer, more precious thing it makes sense to opt for things that you can’t make easily at home.
I say easily, but “avocado hand” is now a well-known millennial medical affliction— caused when a person tries to remove the stone and ends up stabbing themselves instead. The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons wants safety warning labels placed on the fruit. Avo hand has replaced tennis elbow as the middle class injury of choice. God help the NHS.
But we shouldn’t call time on the restaurant avo toast too soon. In troubled times, we seek refuge in comfort food. And while for the boomer generation that may mean nostalgic puds (sales of packet trifle are up 738 per cent this year on last) for the younger generation comfort equals avo toast. Plus, well, we millennials are a risk averse bunch—better let the experts handle the tricky avo stone. And never underestimate the importance we pretty young things attach to perfectly neat, instagrammable slices. What does it matter if it’s raw? The proof is in the photo not in the eating.
Make no mistake, I love avocado on toast. Done right, the slices should have as little give as softened butter, so they can be cut with a spoon. Even better, the avo will be mashed. With a few chilli flakes or a sprinkle of smoked paprika, and plenty of sea salt, it is a fine thing.
But that is why I make it at home. For one of the most egregious of culinary crimes is to serve an avocado insufficiently ripe—many an otherwise first-rate brunch has been ruined by this sorry state of affairs.
Rishi’s meal deal will have provided guilt-free avocado feasting at least for August but what will become of it after that?
If anything will topple the avocado it will be its short eating window. Eat it too soon and it’s tough with no flavour; wait too long and the flesh turns the colour of death. It can sometimes move between the two in a matter of hours. We live in uncertain times. You could hardly blame millennials if they decide to switch it for a less costly, more stalwart staple.