Most everyone here in Chile eats and loves avocados (“palta”). Having a sandwich? It’s not complete without either guacamole or a slice of avocado.

Now, before coming to Chile, the way I selected avocados in the store was to find one that was uniformly slightly soft – about the same squishiness of an peach that would be perfectly ripe in a day or two. Got it? If it was more squishy than that, it was bound to have some dark, bad-tasting bruised spots on the inside.

A few weeks ago, when I went to La Vega for the first time, I asked my palta-loving Chilean friend Andrea how she selects her avocados. We were standing by a big box of avocados, and almost all of them seemed overripe to me. Squishy they were. Squishier than a perfectly ripe peach. “Aren’t these too ripe?” I asked. “No, no,” she said and squeezed one open until the skin cracked. Sure enough, it looked lovely on the inside.

Still, I selected ones on the firmer end. They were all yummy.

The next time we were at the market, the avocados were even riper. I started to not buy any. Andrea assured me they would be good for a few days. So, I bought a few. The ones we had that day and the next were just delicious. By the following day, some brown spots were visible on the inside of the remaining ones; by that point, they were very soft.

The moral of the story? I guess it’s just that – like many other things, avocados just taste better when they haven’t been shipped a long distance, when they are allowed to ripen (at least partly) on the vine. Of course, some things ship and keep better than others. With avocados, there’s a noticeable difference.