"Don't the boss want no nice pears, dis manning?" she asks.
Yes, the boss has to have some pears - nice ripe ones, soft and juicy. But do not imagine Bartletts or Seckels or big California pears, dear reader. Pears in Nassau are quite a different thing. They are of the kind known in the tropics as alligator pears, and no other kind grow here. They look more like small pumpkins than anything else I can compare them with. They are about as large as a small musk-melon and look pretty much like that fruit. To prepare them for the table they are cut into slices, like a melon. There are no seeds inside, but a large stone, as big nearly as your fist. When the pear is ripe this rattles inside before you cut it. When the pear is cut the stone drops out, and is thrown away. Outside the alligator pear is either green or purple; inside it is a pale yellow. And do you bite into a juice specimen, as we do into our own delicious pears? Not quite. Being cut into muskmelon slices, you take a slice on your plate, sprinkle it plentifully with salt, drown it in vinegar and the hottest pepper sauce you can get, and blacken it with pepper. Then it is ready to eat. Your fork at one scoop separates all the edible part from the rind, and you eat it at your leisure, and find plenty of it, for the rind is no thicker than blotting paper. Then (if you are a stranger) you drop the first mouthful back on your plate and tell the waiter never to bring one of those wretched things near you again. But he disobeys your orders, and by taking a mouthful then you gradually conclude that it's not nearly as bad as you first thought it, and before a month is up you are scolding the waiter for not having more of them and wondering why they're so scarce. The alligator pear takes a wonderful hols on you. Some West Indians living in New York send for them by every steamer and mourn when they eat the last. They are very "meaty," for one thing, and I think would be a good substitute when you have that craving for meat that sometimes follows a long fast. They taste very much like medicine - that nobody can deny. But they give you an excuse for singeing your throat with hot sauce and burning your tonsils with bird peppers.
"The American reader knows all about the choice of imports from Cuba, but there are twenty fruits at least indigenous to that tropical soil that never go beyond its boundaries, and are consumed or perish there because they will not bear the handling and cannot stand "age." There is the agnacate, or alligator pear, of which our people know something."
Until the early 1900s, the ahuacate had never been grown commercially in the United States. By 1914, however, hotels in Los Angeles and San Francisco were ordering as many of the fruits as they could and paying as much as $12 for a dozen. Source: Yoon, Howard. What's in a Name? The Avocado Story. NPR. July 19, 2006.
U.S. Inflation Rate, 1914-2018 ($1)
$1 in the year 1914 is equivalent in purchasing power to $24.90 in 2018.