Coconut Water… The good old days

When I spent summers in Jamaica as a kid, my cousins and I would start our mornings by filling our little bowls with fruit we picked off the trees in the yard. We would each present our bowls to my aunt and she would peel and cut the fruit as needed and that would be our weekday breakfast. So, the other day I was eating my fruit salad drizzled with local honey (Yes I know it’s overkill to put sweet on fruit, but if I’m going to have a spoonful of honey at some point in the day then why not.) Anyways, I was thinking back to some of the other great things about those summers in Jamaica and I started to think about coconut water. There is absolutely nothing quite like quenching your thirst on a hot day with coconut water. We would play in the hot humid sun all day long riding big wheels, crashing big wheels, chasing each other, playing tag, walking on fields of Shame-Old-Lady Plants (we’ll discuss this awesome plant shortly) and any other game we could make up and all agree on the rules. (Most of the time establishing the game rules would dissolve into an argument, but it was all in fun.)

When it was super hot, there was nothing like going to the guy who sold coconuts in an iced cart and getting a “water coconut.” Water coconuts are mostly water inside. There are also Jelly Coconuts that have more meat (the white part you see when you crack open a coconut) than water. If you were hoping for a water coconut and crack it open and there’s mostly meat you got a dud.  Nuff said.

There is a fine art to cutting coconut and if you’ve gone on vacation or lived in the Caribbean, you’ve seen it done. There is a way to cut the coconut with a machete so there is one fine point at the top that is cut off so it’s just small enough to either put a straw into it (if you’re wearing clothes you’re not supposed to get covered in coconut water) or just put straight to your head to drink from the “spout”. I say it’s a fine art because if you don’t know what you are doing, you can either chop off your entire hand or mangle the coconut and lose all the water.  It was just the biggest treat to get a coconut water (ice cold makes a difference) because nothing quenched thirst like it.  When you’re finished with drinking the coconut, you hand the coconut back to “the guy” and he cuts it in half and makes a spoon out of a piece of the coconut shell and you eat the meat.  The “meat” can fall on a continuum of softness and different people like different consistencies so my cousins and I would often check each other’s coconuts and trade for the one we wanted if possible.

So, in a return to my youth, my new favorite summer drink is coconut water. Thankfully I can get it in easily in cartons without the danger to life and limbs associated with the machete. I know there is a debate of sorts going on about whether it’s appropriate as a replacement for sports drinks since it has a lot of electrolytes and it’s high in potassium. The sports drink people point out it’s not high in sodium so it shouldn’t qualify as an electrolyte replacement. But none of that matters to me. Maybe it’s the countless number of “Water Coconuts” that I consumed as a kid, but there is nothing more refreshing than an ice cold coconut water on a super hot summer day.