MIDDLEBURY — Guacamole. Avocado fries. Avocado-coconut soft-serve. Baby spinach salad with smoked salmon and avocado.
What do all of these dishes have in common? They’ve all been spotted in the Middlebury College dining halls over the past three weeks.
Head of college dining services Matthew Biette said the plethora of avocado is due to a gift last month of 10,000 pounds of the fruit from a parent who owns an avocado farm in California and wishes to remain anonymous. They arrived in one batch on Friday, March 30. Biette said since then it’s been a scramble to incorporate avocados into as many dishes as possible at every meal. The dining staff, he said, has stepped up to the plate.
“You name it, we’ve tried to do it,” he said.
It’s not just the staff that’s been getting creative, said Biette. Avocados have also been available to students along with the college’s standard orange, apple and banana offerings, and he’s seen students doing their own recipe experimentation.
The avocado bounty arrived just as students were returning from spring break, and Biette said the initial response was one of surprise.
“Students were saying, ‘Wow, are those really avocados? Are they really for us?’” he said.
Biette said the avocados are not the standard Hass avocados found on grocery store shelves. This variety is known as Ettinger avocados, and it is distinguished by larger fruits with thinner skin and milder flavor.
Tim Parsons, landscape horticulturalist at the college, explains on his blog — The Middlebury Landscape — that these avocados are a type cultivated to help the standard, more marketable Hass variety reproduce.
He also reports that the pits contain sap that turns red on contact with the air.
“Bonus points to the first Middkid to write their thesis with this,” he writes.
Back in the dining halls, Biette said the avocados, though refrigerated, are reaching the end of their shelf life. As of Thursday, 100 pounds remained, so he said there’s some pressure now to use up the last of the avocadoes before they are past ripe.
The college wasn’t alone in benefiting from the anonymous gift: Biette said some of the avocadoes have gone to the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union Foodservice Cooperative and Bingham Memorial School in Cornwall. He said on Thursday that Weybridge Elementary School would also be receiving some of the avocados.
And while the end is in sight for this shipment of avocados, Biette said it’s not necessarily the end of avocados in the dining halls.
“If this works, we may have a relationship for some time,” he said.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at email@example.com.