One of my neighbors here at Selva Romantica joined me last spring in a drink or three in the upstairs balcony of a local bar, Que Pasa West. There is a Que Pasa East, but that is another blog for a different day. Our schedules don’t often correspond, so this was as much a getting-to-know-you chat as hard-core gossip about our mutual neighbors. The conversation found its way to the wonders of coconut oil. Linda, most likely the most gorgeous woman in our building, with long platinum hair and flawless skin, divulged the wonders of this oil, which is actually a solid at room temperature in the US and Canada. She uses it to condition her hair, uses it to remove her make-up, uses it as a cooking oil and indulges in spoonfuls of it for a snack. She goes through about a quart a week. I did some reading on this, and was impressed by the range of health benefits it offers, so now I use it at home in Portland. I used it as furniture polish until my house starting smelling weird. Rubbed it on my skin (this is the solid state, so not quite as convenient.) Use it for cooking fish, various stir-fries, baked goods of all sorts. I set it on my woodstove to get it up to melting temperature.
When I return to Puerto Vallarta, I return to the source of fine coconuts. The main harvest season for coconuts seems to be late spring, but they are harvested whenever they get large enough to threaten to drop on a passing head. They sell them on the street, attacking them first with machetes. Some are grown for meat, others for their “water”, the thin liquid in the center of the coconut. The guys whack away at them to form a solid bottom so it will set flat on a table, then whack away at the top until the hollow of the nut is exposed, just barely, and put a straw in it. The ones I’ve had contain about 8 ounces of coconut water, which is a clear, mildly refreshing beverage, especially good chilled. The vendors sell it out of their refrigerators, and set another one in its place and rotate their supply.
Your average chilled coconut goes for about 18 pesos, although it is considered good form to give them a 20 peso note. So this treat is about $1.50 US. I had been making the run of the local markets, picking up some fish here, some bread there, vegetables at the farmers market. It was a warm day and I was ready for a break before I navigated the hill up to my condo.
I stopped to purchase a chilled coconut and it was so good and cool, and felt like the healthiest thing I could possibly put in my body at that moment. The thing is, they are heavy. I was already laden with my previous purchases and was now carrying around this extra item about the size and weight of a human head. That if tipped, will leak. I found an old brick wall, sat between the random rebar sticks, set my groceries down and enjoyed every single drop of my coconut. I’ll get a couple more when Linda returns next week and we might, just might, add a bit of rum to our coconuts.