Coconut. Eeccccchhhh! Back in 1936, when exploitation film director Dwain Epser was putting the finishing touches on his cautionary epic Marihuana: Weed With Its Roots in Hell, he was wasting his time with some mildly addictive drug when he should have focused on that other plant. Who came up with this awful, awful... thing? This hirsute excuse for a fruit. I don't even know if it is a fruit or a berry or what! What I do know is that its outer shell is practically impenetrable (In CastAway, Tom Hanks had to use an ice skate to break it open). Once you get through the shell, it's filled with stringy flesh that you'll chew for
days weeks. Then there's that thin liquid that looks like what's left in the bowl after you eat any other fruit. You don't get that with the friendly, soft, yielding banana. Coconut is regularly hidden in foods à la raisins. Y'know why? I think you do.
|Hey, Ming, try that with a coconut.|
When I took my son out on Hallowe'en for his first taste of door-to-door legal begging, I taught him to say two things at every house: "Trick or Treat" and "Nothing with coconut." He was too young for some of the more complex candy bars and, since I was going to commandeer the bulk of his All Hallows haul, I didn't want any coconut tainting my spoils. Now my son is 27 and I caught him ordering a slice of coconut cream pie in a restaurant. I don't know when that happened. I am alone. I am utterly alone.
My wife and I were doing some grocery shopping. As we approached the checkout, an impulse buy, point-of-purchase display caught our collective eye. It was a multi-shelf offering of a product with a cute, tropical-looking logo called Vita Coco. Its appealing package featured an extreme close-up of a coconut crowned by a dew-kissed green block representing... um.... um ... a way to have the slogan "hydrate naturally" read legibly. "Hmmm," considered Mrs. P, "this looks.... interesting." She selected one of the eco-friendly cardboard boxes, this one sporting a golden pineapple alongside the coconut. "Coconut water with pineapple," she continued, "I think I'll try that."
|Don't be fooled.|
"Eeccccchhhh!," I thought, "Way to ruin a perfectly good pineapple." Pineapple I like. It's sweet. It doesn't have that "came from nature - fruity" taste like most fruit. Plus, it's sweet. So, my wife tossed the Vita Coco coconut water with pineapple into our cart and, just as quickly, I placed it on the conveyor belt along with a loaf of bread, a half-gallon of milk, a squeeze bottle of jelly and other assorted foodstuffs. Mrs. P paid and I bagged our purchases. The Vita Coco was absentmindedly stuck in a bag with a couple of boxes of pasta and a bottle of flavored seltzer. When we got home, it was shoved in the refrigerator behind the milk and forgotten.
The Vita Coco was discovered today as we prepared for dinner. "Hey!," Mrs. P exclaimed, "I almost forgot about this!" She unscrewed the plastic top and poured a sampling of the contents into a waiting glass. It was a cloudy pale yellow. She swirled it around in the glass, holding it up to the light as though inspecting the properties of an expensive wine. Then she took a sip. A tiny sip. Slowly, the corners of her lips curved downward and she made an "Ewww! This is icky!" face.
"Ugh!," Mrs. P cried, "That is awful! It started off with a nice, pineapple flavor, then — eccchhhh! — it has a salt water aftertaste... like it was left in the ocean." She poured a little more into the glass and, despite my dislike of coconut and full expectation of what was to come, I took a sip. My wife was right. She was beyond right. It had a sweaty pineapple sort of taste. Mrs. P poured the remaining contents down the drain and quickly rinsed out the glass with hot water. I hope the pipes are okay.
As for coconut... I'm back where I started. No, thank you. In any form.