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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

Let’s talk about avocado toast

Molly Wood Apr 6, 2017
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Cafe St. Jorge and its famous avocado toast.
Molly Wood/Marketplace

We got a ton of feedback, or is it foodback, about our special NAFTA episode of Make Me Smart. 

Although technically, most of the foodback was actually about avocado toast. Careful listeners of the show will remember that our collective Make Me Smart obsession with avocado toast started with a tale about breakfast. Kai’s breakfast, in fact.

He said he’d had toast, with some avocado on top, which led me to gently mock him for not just calling it what it really is: a delicious culinary creation that’s taken hipster eateries by storm. Avocado toast apparently became a Certified Big Deal a couple years back because Gwyneth Paltrow put it in her “It’s All Good” cookbook in 2013. Although this surprisingly voluminous Wikipedia entry cites lots more references dating back as far as 1937, when it was apparently recommended along with “a lime rickey.”

So for the NAFTA episode, I went to Cafe St. George in San Francisco, home of a very highly rated slab of avocado toast, and talked about what might happen to the price of avocados (and our precious, precious toast trend) if NAFTA were to be repealed or renegotiated. You can hear all that in the episode, but let’s talk about the toast.

It is indeed, a hearty helping. It’s roughly an entire avocado on some oat-y, nutty brown bread that’s at least an inch thick. The flavoring is pretty simple: some olive oil, a little lemon and red pepper flakes, plus a little other secret spice mixed in there. You can, crucially, get it with toppings that include a fried egg, which is how I prefer mine.

I’ll say that for my money, I like a little less lemon and a lot more sea salt, and sourdough toast or crusty French bread. But the Cafe St. George toast delivered for what I thought was a fairly reasonable $6.

But my favorite part of the ensuing week was watching all of you listeners try it for yourselves! Here’s just a sampling of the people who tweeted us about their first-timer avocado toast adventures:

There were a couple more advanced entries, including a hard-boiled egg, which sounds intriguing and delightful.

And some price complaints, because NAFTA may still be in effect, but the creamy green fruits don’t come cheap in Vancouver.

But in the interest of making you smarter, here are some interesting facts about avocado toast.

  • It can range from 400 to 700 calories per serving
  • It seems to have first appeared on a menu in 1993, in Australia
  • According to Google Trends, interest in avocado toast has grown steadily since 2013; there was a dip in October followed by a big spike in January (could our show be the reason?)
  • New York produces the most searches for avocado toast; Washington DC is second
  • Possible toast toppings include egg, crab, tuna, pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, sprouts, shrimp, arugula, chickpeas, bacon, tomato, dukkah, roasted garlic and hemp seeds … anything, really
  • A casual survey of prices shows that toast dishes can range from $4 to well over $20, depending on toppings

There’s been speculation for at least the last two years that we may have, in fact, reached “peak avocado toast,” a characterization I would dispute since so many of you hadn’t tried it until recently. However, with news this week that some enterprising Italians have opened an actual avocado bar in Brooklyn, Kai and I have determined that it’s certainly approaching pumpkin spice territory, if it hasn’t completely jumped the shark.

But if it does, at least we’ll still have Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.

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