- Food and Cooking
C is for Coconut
Good day. Surprised to see you hear in such an establishment. Ah, don’t recall me? We met last year but under the circumstances at the time, I’m not surprised. I’m Inspector Inquisitive. I am in the business of investigating information and strange occurrences.
Oh, yes. I’m on an assignment now. The royal house of Unsuredom contacted me last week to look into the history and any unseemly past for something called a coconut. It seems that they have some dignitaries visiting that prefer to have coconuts for most meals. Since the country of Unsuredom has never seen nor heard of such a thing, they hired me to look into it. It would not be seemly to have something embarrassing being served even for visitors.
I’ve learned so much. I’m meeting my contact today to hand over the data. Like what? Oh, I almost don’t know where to begin.
Are you familiar with the coconut? It is round and kind of hairy. This outer hairy shell is known as a husk. It is one of the most versatile things I have encountered. Some countries use it for cooking fuel. Others use the material to make clothes (might be a little itchy, I would think), rope (seems to be stronger than hemp that is used in some other countries), fishnets, and even bed mats. You can even use it as a dish or cup to eat out of. Amazing. I actually picked up one of these strange things during my travels and was amazed at the texture.
The inside is even more amazing. The younger nuts are known for their water which is extremely thirst quenching. Seems that this water has saved many a sailors’ life over the centuries. It is high in minerals and there is a claim that it is good in cleaning the kidneys. (Off the record, maybe the queen could use this.)
The more mature nuts have some “meat” and “milk” that is considered quite valuable by many. Sugar and oil is also derived from this rather large nut. The milk and the meat are used extensively in cooking in so many countries that my expense report will be very large this time. At first it seemed that it was only used in deserts, but then I ended up in Thailand where I was introduced to it being used in main dishes. It is so sweet and delicious.
Look at this list of recipes and this is just a sample of them.
Chewy Coconut Cookies – It was love at first bite for me.
Bonbon Jovi – per the women I met, these are as good as he is goodlooking
Ginger Angel Food Cake with Coconut Frosting – What a way to end a 10 course meal!
Chicken and Coconut Casserole – one of my favorites off an island somewhere in the Pacific
The oil that is derived from it is used both internally and externally. Some claim that it helps with circulation, stronger teeth, prevention of cancer, aids in digestion, fighting infections, improve texture of skin and hair, helps in weight loss, and could be a big boost for anyone needing energy.
That is the most current information that I could find on this strange nut. So I then began to look at its past to see what I could uncover.
It’s name is derived from the Portuguese who called it coco which means “grinning face” or “monkey face” because of some strange markings on it that make it resemble a face. Vasco de Gama, a famous explorer, brought it back to Europe.
I tried to discover exactly where it came from because that can say a lot about a food. I got as far as somewhere around New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean. Believe it or not, it was not man that helped it spread throughout the tropics. These nuts are so light that they fall into the ocean and float to other islands and then reproduce. I am amazed more and more by this strange looking nut.
There are over 20 billion of these things harvested every year. Though it only takes 1 year for a palm tree to mature and begin bearing coconuts, the average tree produces 60 a year if not more.
They are so popular and valuable that the Nicoban Islands used them as currency until the early 1900’s.
Then I began to discover some of the skeletons in the coconut’s closet. It allows it sap from the tree to be used in making a fermented drink. It does not care if it is legal or not. After tasting its sweet nectar, I was so disappointed to hear of its blind eye to the law. Then to make matters worse, I discovered that many of its family members are cold-milked murders. There are reports of 150 deaths a year from falling coconuts. That is more than a shark claims. And keep in mind that this is only the reported ones.
My conclusion? I think that the coconut is worth bringing in and introducing to our cooks. They might need some initial training on how to properly handle them, but I think that it could revolutionize our cuisine. But I would strongly suggest that they keep tight security around them and monitor them closely. It seems that the innocence they project could be a ruse.
It was so good to see you again. I see my contact coming in the door now. Maybe we can meet again over coffee. I received a message from another client that wants to look into something called a date. Or maybe they are asking me out on one. I’ll have to replay that message.
Until next time!