Seasonal produce: zavoka

One of my favorite things about Madagascar is the ability to eat fresh seasonal foods throughout the year. The island is so agriculturally diverse that the options for seasonal produce are almost endless. Every few months, the markets are overflowing with a new feature item that I’ve never seen before. 

Now it’s zavoka (avocado) season! As a native Californian, avocados already rank pretty high on my list of favorite foods. So to have access to perfectly ripe and affordable avocados every day is truly a dietary blessing. 

A fresh zavoka

The zavoka in Madagascar is slightly different than the Hass avocados I am used to eating in America. At first glance, they are noticeably much larger and greener than the varieties found in America. When I first saw an avocado in this country, I had a hard time believing it was actually an avocado! Despite this, they can still be just as ripe and delicious. The zavoka is a little sweeter than a Hass avocado and it has a creamy texture when it’s masaka tsara (perfectly ripe). The pit of a zavoka is also much larger, which probably explains why the overall size of the avocado is generally larger. 

In Madagascar, I’ve been able to try new ways of eating avocados. For example, following the advice of one of my neighbors, I often make a kind of avocado yogurt. I simply cube a very ripe zavoka, add a splash of water and a teaspoon of sugar, then mix it up with a spoon until it has a smooth texture similar to yogurt. The small amount of sugar only helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the zavoka. I find this to be a delicious breakfast or dessert! I’ve also been experimenting with different types of avocado salads, combining vinegar, onion, garlic, tomato, and sometimes carrot. Of course, I love to make guacamole as often as I can and share it with some of my Malagasy friends. They seem to enjoy trying this new “foreign” food. Sometimes when people see me buying a bunch of avocados in the market, they ask me if I’m making guacamole again. I also enjoy eating a zavoka, with just a little bit of salt and pepper, as a quick and easy snack. 

I fear that zavoka season will soon be coming to an end in Andapa. But until then, I am enjoying the bountiful harvest. 

Posing with a relatively smaller zavoka

What shall I do

What shall I do
With the months and weeks and days
How shall I get along
When my purpose becomes a haze

The cigarette burns quickly
In a world without a clock
So few measures, so few records
Favoring action more than talk

The American inside me aches
For worth in quantitative terms
But numbers aren’t as sexy here
As one eventually learns

What things should I be doing
Often I’m unsure of my course
Suspended in ambiguity
Hard to move despite my force

Some days are good and others bad
My emotions ebb and flow
I stab in the dark for answers
But I may not ever know

I occupy this time and space
This, I’m certain, must be true
But the way in which I carry myself
May speak volumes over what I do

The question of what shall I do
Becomes much too focused on me
The question should, however, change
To answer how you and I will be