Sunday, 5 October 2014

There they are, all standing in a row...


Prediction: Coconut Water will sweep Britain as a new craze. I am already hooked on the stuff.

I was at a museum cafe in London recently, and  - not wanting another coffee - ordered 'Coconut Water' which I was surprised to see on the menu. One sip and I was flung back into childhood Summers, sitting in the kitchen and waiting eagerly as my father milked a solitary coconut by puncturing it with a meat skewer, and dribbling the almost clear liquid into a few glasses so we all got a spoonful or two.

It was this lengthy and elaborate process which made the actual drink seem more precious than it probably was, and is also probably why I don't mind paying about £3 for the equivalent of 6 nut-fulls of the stuff today. The mere fact that we don't grow coconuts in this country already made it exotic.

If I saw a fairground glittering and sparkling in the distance, I would create hell until we made a detour to pay it a visit, and quite a few shillings for the Dodgems. Driving on the wrong side of the river when leaving London for home at night was hell for me, because we never crossed it to visit Battersea Fun Fair, which was always running, 364 days and nights of the year. I don't blame my father for that now, but I did then.

He would always have a go at the Coconut Shy when reluctantly at a fairground, and if one of us didn't manage to knock one off its stand with the super-light wooden balls, then he would buy one anyway, choosing it carefully by shaking them until he found the one most full of water, or 'milk' as he called it then, before Thai cookery had been discovered in this country.

The next day, the ritual of milking it would begin, and Dad would fumble about with inappropriate tools wrapped in tea-towels, lecturing us on the importance of always puncturing two of the three soft spots on the top of the nut, so that air would be  drawn in to allow the flow of the juice from the other.

'Flow' is the wrong word to use - the 3 mm holes in the nut were incapable of producing anything other than a few drops at a time, before they were blocked up by a tiny piece of nut pushed in by the skewer.

The first and last tastes of it were savoured for as long as possible, much in the same way that the little nectarine bush against the back wall of our house produced so few fruit, that they were cut into tiny portions which were given the status of caviar before we were allowed to actually eat them. It worked too - they tasted delicious.

The thing about coconut water is that the subtle sweetness works on the part of your tongue which is normally reserved for salty things, and this just adds to the mystique and exoticness of it.

This, and the claim that coconut water acts as natural and speedy rehydration on the human body (a bit like ordinary water, then?) is the perfect excuse to sell the by-product from the Asian cookery industry and door-mat businesses at a premium price, globally.

I don't care - I would probably still buy it at twice the price - at the moment.

33 comments:

  1. Nice memory of you dad, Tom!

    Coconut water has been big here for a few years - mostly with the Trader Joe's and/or organic little markets crowd. Husband is a huge fan of it, and liked one brand the best and of course he cannot remember which one (I just asked him).

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    1. Yes, I have already discovered that the brands vary a lot - which is strange since most coconuts taste pretty much the same no matter where they come from.

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    2. It is strange.
      Do what Robert didn't do - mark down which one/s you like the best!

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    3. At the moment, I am not that spoilt for choice.

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  2. The most exotic thing we ever had in the 1950s; it puts my whole life into perspective.

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    1. The Eastern Block went absolutely wild for bananas when the Wall came down. Every few yards across the border, someone was selling bananas by the roadside.

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  3. The more I think about coconuts, the more I remember the associations with implausibly blue sea, white sand and palm trees, with dusky women beneath them - I almost believed that the women on these far-flung islands sawed the shells in half and used them as bras, if ever they wore them at all.

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    1. Then there are the BBC sound-effects involving radio horses - what a versatile nut it is.

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    2. Brushes, doormats with 'WELCOME' printed on them...

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    3. The line from "It's a Wonderful Life" when young George gave young Mary a hard time because she didn't like coconut.

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    4. The more I think about it the more it depresses me. My brother taking a hammer and a screwdriver as my father shouted instructions to him. Then it had to be carefully poured into a vessel that wasn't to hand and more shouting. And then it had to be shared between six and it tasted horrible and I said ugh and got a hiding for being ungrateful.

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    5. Those two last comments made me regress into modernity, and I don't like that. Fuck - what are you two trying to do?

      Say hello to Frank for us, Rachel.

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  4. My great grandmother used to buy fresh coconuts at Christmastime for making coconut cakes. After she passed away, I never remember anyone bothering with them anymore, preferring to use preshredded bagged stuff. These days, no one makes coconut cake at all. Too much trouble, I suppose.

    I recently discovered frozen coconut water ice pops at the grocery store. They have other bits of fruit (like pineapple) mixed in, but no added sugar. They were delicious and refreshing on the hottest days of summer.

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    1. No, sorry. Coconut should be unadulterated.

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  5. By the way, you've got War and Peace to read on Goliath in case you haven't spotted it.

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    1. I regret War and Peace on Goliath deleted herself. I didn't mean any harm when I commented above if you are reading this Leslie. , I just know that TS never checks comments on posts gone by and was merely alerting him to it in a way that I do sometimes.

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    2. I am still none the wiser, and if it has been deleted I'll probably stay that way. I do sometimes go back a few posts and look, but you know me - always looking forward into a bright new future.

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  6. Those coconuts at the fair were like the Holy Grail …. I can't remember winning one …. plenty of goldfish in plastic bags that died within a couple of days, but never a coconut. But, I do remember my dad getting the screwdriver to make the holes for the coconut milk and then bashing the life out of the coconut with a hammer. I still love fresh coconut. Our grandson has been drinking coconut water for ages. I always have to have some in the fridge …. he loves it too. Quite a long comment but nowhere near the epistle of Leslie's on your last post … sorry Leslie …. you'll never be able to forget it !! XXXX

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    1. I'd like to know if I've done something to annoy you ….. you are always very curt with your replies if I get one at all ….. I get the feeling that you have a problem with me …… perhaps I'm wrong or maybe it would be best if I didn't return here. I know you wouldn't give a toss whether I returned here or not….. and, by the way, I haven't been drinking, unlike you probably.

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    2. No, you have got it wrong, Jack@. I love you and I will most often give curt replies to everyone - including those who I love the most - just to show no favouritism at all to anyone.

      Don't take me too seriously, please - I am only here to have fun and upset people.

      I hope you understand.

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    3. That's alright then you old git !! …… feel free to carry on telling me to fuck off haha !! I really don't take things very seriously at all and I'm not at all needy. Perhaps the moon is in the wrong place or something ……. love you too !!!!! XXXX

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    4. Watch it Jackie. Just because Spurs won you think you can say what you likeX

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    5. I loved that fight between Wenger and Julio Inglesias yesterday.

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  7. I cannot describe my pleasure at chucking those wooden balls at those coconuts. Somehow I always managed to win one, and breaking them open was one of my real annual pleasures. God that brings back memories!!!

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    1. Ah! I have touched old hearts in France. My work is done.

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  8. I remember in the 80s when the powers that be decided everything coconut was bad bad bad for you. When I met my husband in the late 70s he drank an all natural coconut/pineapple juice every morning of his life.....until they discontinued it because it was "unhealthy". Now it's back...go figure.
    My daughter loves coconut water...me, not so much.

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    1. Introduce me to your daughter, Sherry. Photo appreciated.

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  9. Supposedly good for a hangover, although anything watery usually is. If you haven't tried coconut oil for your skin yet, you should.It would be great for your hands, which I am sure get parched from the stone you handle
    e. I've given up expensive face cream in favor of coconut oil.

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    1. My sisters used to fry themselves in it on the beach.

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  10. I just adore coconut (almost as much as the birds in our garden do) so shall no doubt become addicted to this when it eventually arrives up here in the sticks.

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