Name: Avocado hand.
Prevalence: Widespread and increasing in middle-class kitchens
Symptoms: Blood everywhere. Shouting: “Ow! My hand!” Chronic embarrassment.
This sounds like a very unpleasant condition. How does one develop it? Is there a genetic component? We don’t yet know. Onset of avocado hand develops suddenly when someone preparing to eat an avocado stabs themselves instead.
Why do people do that? Avocados are delicious, but they may well go brown during the wait in A&E. Oh, they’re delicious all right, and tremendously popular. They are also booby trapped.
How so? You know when you cut an avocado down the middle, then twist the halves apart, to be left with two beautiful pear-shaped pieces, one with an empty well in the centre, the other with the stone or pit embedded in it?
I am familiar with that scenario. I’m never quite sure how to get the stone out. Exactly! So people take the point of the knife and try to dig around it, then slip, and end up stabbing the hand they are holding the avocado with. Some sufferers from avocado hand experience nerve or tendon damage from which they never fully recover.
Those fiendish Mexicans! So their entire delicious food culture was just a ruse to injure gringos? If only we could surround them with some kind of wall. Good plan. In the mean time, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons wants safety-warning labels placed on avocados. “There is minimal understanding of how to handle them,” the honorary secretary of Bapras, Simon Eccles, told the Times. “Perhaps we could have a cartoon picture of an avocado with a knife, and a big red cross going through it?”
I think I’m stupid enough to ignore that. You and many others. Eccles says he treats four people a week for avocado hand. Meryl Streep was afflicted in 2012, and many sufferers complain that the worst aspect is the stigma.
So how do I avoid it? Is there a vaccine? Not yet, but you can try scooping the stone out with a spoon, or hacking down on the stone with the middle of the blade, then twisting to remove it neatly.
Do say: “Just be careful when you pull the stone off the knife.”
Don’t say: “I reckon I could cut myself with a spoon if I put my mind to it.”