Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
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.