At the beginning of this month, The New York Timesran an 11-paragraph article on how to cut an avocado without cutting yourself. It detailed the increasing number of injuries sparked by the menial, seemingly innocuous task of splicing open an avocado, that lush, verdant fruit with a seed the size of a goiter.
The mere existence of that article in a respected American publication can, at first blush, seem like a totally pointless waste of digital real estate. Guess again.
“Avocado hand” has recently become a medical term over in the United Kingdom, where, as the London Timesreports, there’s been a recent spate of amateur cooks sent to the ER after some slippage led to ungainly hand lacerations, wherein they've damaged crucial nerves and tendons, some of their scars permanent.
It’s careened into an issue so widespread that the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgeons is lobbying for safety labels to be on avocados to prevent the gross slip-n-stab that can so easily happen when you cut. Simon Eccles, the association’s secretary, sees at least four patients a week who roll through his offices at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London with bloody, maimed hands.
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Laugh all you’d like at the woes of this constituency of avocado toast consumers, but that Times diagnosis brings forth a pretty cogent point: In spite of this fruit’s increasing ubiquity atop toasts and in guacamole, there still isn’t much information on how to cut an avocado without mauling yourself. The most tried-and-true method seems to be cutting lengthwise around the pit, on a flat surface. Smooth and steady. Take it from Jamie Oliver.
Or perhaps you can take a cue from my colleague Sarah Jampel, who recommends slicing open an avocado crosswise to achieve perfect petals of green. Next time you buy an avocado, take some time to learn what method works best for you, and don't rush through it; I wouldn't want you (or a loved one) to fall victim to the avocado hand.
Have a preferred method of slicing an avocado? Have an avocado-slicing injury anecdote of your own you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.