As I stare at the above picture of the remnants of one of our wonderful days at the beach here in Haiti, I can’t help but smile a little.
These empty coconut shells bring me back to lazy days spent basking under the sun perfecting my tan.
Well, what if I told you that watching unskilled people attempt to cut open a coconut with a machete is also quite entertaining? See, cutting a coconut open is an art much like climbing up the tree to get the fruits to fall to the ground.
Here in Haiti, we really “sacrifice” our coconut; water or flesh, no edible part of this fruit is ever left uneaten. We handpick them and thus enjoy them at their freshest. For those who don’t know, coconut sold on the market elsewhere are typically in their dried form and stripped of their thick outer shell. Fresh coconuts, like the ones we handpick or that are sold on the streets in Haiti, are as big and as brightly colored as the ones pictured above.
We typically rely on expert hands to cut just the right sized hole for it has to be big enough for the water to be extracted without losing the flesh. Speaking of the flesh, we call it nannan in Creole, and there are two types of nannan: ole and rèk. A kokoye is ole when the flesh is tender and flexible, slippery and can easily be added to the coconut water whereas the mature flesh on the thick side is the kokoye rèk. When on a beach, we typically use a makeshift spoon, made from the coconut shell by expert hands to remove the nannan. You are probably wondering why we don’t use a regular spoon, right? My answer is simply that the coconut does not quite taste the same without a coconut spoon. Take my word for it.
We don’t just enjoy our coconut on the beach. We drink its juice, turn it into a quick cocktail by mixing it with some rum and use the kokoye rèk for cooking and baking purposes. Coconut rice, konparèt, delightful douce or tablet kokoye, blan manje, ice cream are just a few of the many uses of this fruit in our local cuisine.
Coconut is simply one of those fruits one cannot help but love, especially with its refreshing water.