03 Oct. 2009
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 RIKL Review - Karen's Coconut

It's not every day that I am confronted with a refractory coconut.  Until recently I would have said "any day," but the RIKL Review franchise demands hands-on expertise, and I have attained same with a coconut that was was remarkably immune to my ministrations.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Coconut of Remembered Youth

The story begins with Karen, who had a "youth."  In the halcyon days of this youth, her father opened coconuts with great aplomb and facility and coconut milk.  She would drain and drink the delicious liquid, after which he would dispatch the coconut endocarp with simple hand tools, revealing the "meat" which next would be eagerly consumed.  It should be noted that not only were the coconut contents terminated with extreme yum, there were no sequelae involving rushed trips to any household facilities. 

Karen obtained a coconut and enchantingly described her memory, which she proposed to reproduce in part with my assistance.  I was challenged both by her description and by the coconut itself.  I am, as Kurt Vonnegut put it under different circumstances, "good with tools."  I am not, however, good with coconuts.  It did not help that the array of tools available to me at the moment weren't exactly coconut-worthy.  They were:

  • One fixed-speed electric drill with a selection of two bits:  A masonry bit (dull) and a wood bit (charred).

  • One medium Phillips screwdriver

  • A pair of tin snips

Opening the Coconut (The Wrong Way)

If you are tasked with opening a coconut, and don't have either the knowledge or a monkey (that can do this routinely), but only the array delineated above, you can open a coconut thus:

Drill a hole in a random spot in the the coconut shell employing the masonry bit.  This will take a minute or two.  (The charred wood bit wouldn't even start the hole.)  After the hole is drilled, invert the coconut over a glass container.  The coconut will slowly and with seeming reluctance disgorge the milky liquid into the glass.  When you are quite certain it's done, look bewildered and stab the coconut several times in different locations with the Phillips screwdriver.  Eventually, just before hoping for a monkey to stop by, you will find a softer spot in the ogive of the coconut.  Puncture this with the screwdriver and insert as best you can one jaw of the tin snips.  Periodically close the snips, and hope that the coconut shell breaks cleanly.  Eventually the shell will have parted enough to access the coconut meat.  The meat can then be separated from the hard wood shell with ordinary kitchen appliances (knives, mallets, ice picks).

Yum of the Not So Extreme Persuasion

I myself am coconut-flavor neutral.  Occasionally a shrimp will present itself coated with shreds, or a scoop of ice cream will have them embedded within.  I consume both, appreciating the substrate and noting the mildly pleasant coconut essence without any great feeling for or against.  This was my first unadorned, full-coconut experience. 

The coconut milk, at least the tiny sip that I consumed, was pretty much flavor-free.  The coconut meat, at which I gingerly nibbled, was similar in its lack of distinctive coconuttiness.  In other words, on a scale from Yecch to Yum, it was comfortably centered.  But, lest we forget, this blogitem is about Karen's youth, and this is a RIKL Review of her coconut, not my experience.

The Verdict

She eagerly abstracted a piece of the meat, and sipped the nectar of remembered youth.  It was with sadness (hers and mine) that she declaimed "You can't go home again."

All Part of the Service

I might never have written this blogitem were it not for happenstance.  Just days after disassembling my first coconut, I came upon a newspaper article in the New York Times entitled "Crack It, Sip It, Then Tote It."  From this article I was stunned to learn that coconuts are fashionable, at least in Brooklyn.  "...The young coconut and its juice is the latest formerly humble food to be discovered by New York City's style set, and elevated—if not quite to the level of a status symbol—at least to that of a prized accessory."  As a public service of this blog, knowing that people who use coconuts as accessories may be as clue-free as I was about their penetration and consumption, I offer the following "official" if somewhat grammatically confused description of the process.

Coconut opening instruction sheet

If you happen to have a monkey, I suspect it will start with step #4, part 2.

Follow-up 27 Feb. 2010

I am not alone in experiencing difficulty in coconut separation.  This appeared in the February 2010 Scientific American, as the final paragraph of Steve Mirsky's Anti Gravity column.

Mirsky has no more charisma with coconuts than I do.  He makes no personal comment about the banana, but I'm guessing that, despite the ridicule his article heaps on one Ray Comfort, he considers them nutritious and "hand-friendly."

Anti-Gravity Column excerpt, Scientific American February 2010

"The Journey"
Small Faces




Do they grow coconuts in New Orleans?

(No.  They don't.  Wikipedia so asserts.)

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