Saturday, May 23, 2009

Coconut Water

The other day, on the way to Bob Roth's New River Groves, I got stuck in traffic at the intersection of Griffin and US 1, over by the Fort Lauderdale Airport. The traffic was caused by a large landscaping truck and at least thirty landscape workers who were pruning and preening the entrance to the airport. As I sat, stalled, waiting to creep up to the light so I could turn west towards my mango paradise, I noticed the landscapers were all using their machetes to hack open a bunch of green coconuts that they had cut down from the palm trees they were trimming. Once they got them open, the used to tips of their enormous knives to flick a little hole in the top of the thick husks, and then they drank out of them. They were drinking the coconut water, not to be confused with coconut milk (a different thing altogether).

I've had coconut water before. My parents' housekeeper takes all the coconuts from the trees in their yard, opens them and drinks the water too. I also had coconut water, straight from the fruit, in Jamaica, where they sell coconuts fitted with plastic straws to curious tourists. I like coconut milk, but I admit to being scared of opening a coconut myself. Hacking away at an unstable, fairly small and extremely tough and fibrous sphere terrifies me. I can see myself losing a finger, so I prefer to let other people open coconuts for me. Lord knows what I'd do if I were stranded alone on a desert island. I always think of Tom Hanks in "Castaway" struggling to pry away the husks and crack the shells to avoid certain starvation. I have nightmares about such things.

Imagine then, my thrill when I got to Bob Roth's and discovered fresh coconut water in jugs. No inpenetrable husk and shell to deal with! All I had to do was twist open a cap and enjoy my quart of fresh coconut water with no additives. Some may say that's cheating. It is. Some may say that it's silly to pay for something I could pick for free in my parents' yard. Yes, I agree. However, it's worth it to maintain all ten of my fingers in addition to my sanity. As I writer, I need my fingers, ok? Sanity, not so much, but the fingers are important. So I bought a quart of coconut water and have been enjoying it abundantly ever since, because it spoils quickly. And also because it's good.

Coconut water is becoming more and more popular. A few companies are selling cans and juice boxes of it. I've seen them in Whole Foods and now Publix. One company bills coconut water as "the new sports drink." They're right. Coconut water has all the essential electrolytes and more potassium than bananas. It's way better for you than Gatorade with all of its chemicals and unnatural colorings. My doctor recommends it over anything else for dehydration and there are many stories from WW II veterans in the Pacific about how they used coconut water in IV bags. From what I hear, in several third world countries, they still use coconut water for IVs. Coconut water is easy to digest, has a pleasant light taste and texture and is good for you, so naturally someone would come along and want to capitalize on it. The problem for me with these companies is that they are not local, they use a lot of packaging, one brand I looked at included sulfites as a preservative, and the coconut water just isn't the same as fresh coconut water.

If you are lucky enough to live somewhere where coconuts grow, stick with the real thing. If you are lucky enough to live in South Florida, go to Bob Roth's and get some fresh, finger-safe, preservative free coconut water in a jug. Then reuse the jug, recycle it or give it back to Bob's so they can use it again.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I just discovered your blog and think it's great. I grew up in the neighborhood right behind Bob Roths Groves. Next time you go, you should see if they have any fresh lychees for sale! I always get some in the summer when I'm down there. Also, their key lime pie is famously delicious.

    Their orange grove got torn down during the that citrus disease craze and they now have mangos and avocado tree back there, so I'd recommend them for that too! Oh one more thing is that they make their carrot juice fresh every morning and my dad would walk over on the weekends to get some and bring it back for us. Sorry, this must sound like a sales ad for them...but I was so excited to see it mentioned

    Love your blog, look forward to reading more!