FAVORITE FRUIT: When people are quizzed about their favorite fruit, they very often land on apple or strawberry, completely skipping the fact that the avocado happens to be a fruit as well. In fact, that tends to slip a lot of minds; even devoted fans of the alligator pear can occasionally ponder if it is a vegetable, or fruit, or something from another sub-genus entirely. It does look as if it flew in from another planet, or perhaps was designed by committee: a giant pit, the prickly green shell, the creamy texture that isn't really like anything else on the planet. (Do you ever describe an avocado as tasting like, well, an avocado? Because there's no other comparison?) But that's all part of its charm. Also part of its charm? We Californians can't stop feting it. There's the springtime party in Fallbrook and the autumn bash in Carpinteria, which marks year 26 from Friday, Oct. 5 through Sunday, Oct. 7.
GUAC AND BEYOND: Yep, the California Avocado Festival is indeed about guacamole, in all of its forms: extra tomatoes, no tomatoes, some tomatoes, a dash of garlic -- but the bumpily fruit makes other culinary cameos during the three-day weekend. Some 60 bands'll be playing on a number of stages over the fest -- this is no small thing, we'll say it again, despite the fact that the fruit it fetes is rather small in stature -- and other to-dos. You might also consider going Amtrak, since the Carp stop isn't too far from the action. Best of all, though, in our books? Fall has finally arrived, making it pretty much the ideal weekend to hit something like this. Sweating is minimal, guacamole-enjoyment is maximized, and everyone wins.