As I type this one-handed, with my left hand wrapped in literal metres of bandage, on an interesting cocktail of pain medication that makes me care about, well, nothing, I have to ask myself — how did this happen?
Here’s how. I am one of the latest victims of the avocado. Common injuries including slicing your finger open with a chef’s knife while removing the seed is just one of those injuries that manages to insert you firmly in the hall of shame that the brightest and shiniest of the middle classes possess. Along with rooibos tea burns and choking on your alfalfa sprouts, natch. But after research I have found that I am most certainly not the first to fall victim to what has to be the most dangerous fruit in the kitchen.
So here’s my story. I was once a chef, and as a result I have very good knives. Very good, very sharp knives. And like most ex-chefs – I would go as far as to say most of the general population, actually – I am relatively confident with knives in the kitchen. So one wouldn’t think twice about y’know, cutting open an avocado pear.
In my case, the avocado in question was slightly overripe, and considering how sharp my knives are, it’s no surprise what happened next. Straight through the flesh of the fruit, the blade skimmed off the seed in the centre and went out the other side of the fruit. Where it (and I assure you, I was not putting much pressure on the knife) went straight through, yes, my hand. I had somehow managed to miss any bones, but seemingly sliced a few arteries (and potentially nerves and tendons too) on the way through. This became apparent when my kitchen was soon sprayed with a nice mist of blood when I – in the shock of impaling my extremity – promptly removed the knife from my palm. I only wish I’d gotten pictures of it fresh — here it is a few days later while I was getting my dressings changed:
The majority of people who somehow heard of my little incident ask – “how the heck did you manage to do that?” Well actually, while in hospital I discovered this is not an uncommon thing to happen. There are many fruit and vegetable-related injuries, many more than you can possibly begin to imagine, and the top offender when it comes to dangerous fruit is the avocado. In St. Thomas’ in London, an avocado-related injury comes through a few times a fortnight. In St. Georges’ in Tooting, London, a similar story every couple of days. Trawling through the web or contacting any hand specialist units in hospitals will reveal that most hospitals have reported a similar trend.
So what’s the best way to de-seed an avocado to protect your fingers? Or in my case, palm. The Californian Avocado Society recommends taking the seed out with your fingers. The Hass Avocado society recommends scooping out the stone with a spoon. Various websites recommend taking out the stone using a knife. Plenty of contradictions all over the web. So what to do?
You decide. Just don’t fall foul of the avocado. It hurts.
Alex Kennedy is an ex-chef; Apple fanboy; nutrition nut, and geek who juggles work in production; lighting design; sound and special effects for theatre. Also a consumer psych consultant; you can follow him on Twitter here, or look him up on LinkedIn here.
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