Coconuts for You

Lauren in Hawaii with coconuts and machete
Lauren in Hawaii
My boyfriend got me a machete for Christmas, but I couldn’t use it. I injured my arm in a bike accident in October, separating my shoulder and screwing up my rotator cuff. I was still having issues with pain and limited movement in December. “I hope this isn’t more of a gift for me than for you,” Eric said.

We were visiting my mother and father in Southwest Florida. There are a lot of coconut palms in Florida, but unlike in Hawaii, the residents seem to regard the fruit as a nuisance rather than as an edible treat. They can become cannon balls in the high winds of a hurricane. But since they exist in many people’s yards anyway, why not eat them? Coconuts are an excellent source of important fatty acids (medium-chain triglycerides) and fiber. Drinking coconut water is a somewhat sweet, just slightly salty, generally delightful, way to replenish electrolytes. But damn, those coconuts are difficult to crack. I’m more partial to the meat than to the water, so drilling a couple holes and sticking a straw in the bastards just won’t do.

The coconuts you get at the store look not much like the coconuts you harvest off a palm. Someone has already removed the several inches thick, fibrous husk from those hard round balls (that look kind of like bowling balls with the three dark notches). Real coconuts are more acorn-shaped and very heavy. You’re getting just the brittle inner capsule at the grocery store. If you think that’s difficult to get through, you have no idea what attacking the full fruit is like.

On a nude beach in Hawaii, I saw a boy climb a palm tree, grab a young coconut, and bash it against a sharp rock a few times to release the juice and meat. Unless you’ve been doing it all your life, it’s best to find a low-hanging coconut or find an uncompromised one from the ground. And you’d better have a machete.

Eric had to break open all the coconuts we harvested from palms or gleaned from the ground since I couldn’t wield the machete. And he undertook the arduous task with earnest enthusiasm, slicing and smashing over and over from several angles, trying to cut through and peel off the husks. He appreciates the sweet fluids and flesh yielded by a handpicked coconut as much as I do. After a particularly difficult round of fruit hacking, requiring great patience and determination, I wound my arms around his sweaty neck. “Times like this,” I said, “make me realize what a good match we are.”

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