Food Writing 101: Memoir

Disclaimer: I submitted this as my first homework for my Food Writing class. This is the original copy so please excuse if you see any copywriting errors. Grade: A! This topic is actually a continuation of a previous blog entitled I Want to be a Coconut Plantation Donya.


Memoir | Coconuts Rediscovered
“The coconut-nut is a giant nut if you eat too much you get very fat...” – Smokey Mountain. It sounds like a jingle for a commercial, but it was a famous song in the 90s sung by the now defunct Smokey Mountain band, named after a garbage dump in Manila, Philippines. The song signified the many coconuts in the country.
A few coconuts grew in our garden. Growing coconuts in a tropical place meant they are available for consumption year round. During Sundays, I saw our worker climbing up a coconut tree skillfully hopping like a frog to chop the roots of the fruits. One by one the coconuts made a small thud on the ground.
That same day, the cook started to crack the coconut shells in half draining all water in a pitcher. She then proceeded to sit on a stool with a plank and a handmade sharp tool on one end, which she would use to shave off the meat on each husk with an up and down motion. 
By noontime, my family always gathered for long Sunday lunches. Of course, the coconut juice with shaved meat was the beverage served.  “Coconuts are good for your urinary tract,” my mom told me. As a kid, that meant that I could get as many glasses of coconut water as I wanted.
            There were times when the meat was not so sweet. They were usually kept aside and later made into a coconut shake, iced candy or jam. These were perfect treats for the Philippines’ hot and humid days. Sometimes, I found a coconut jam inside a ‘bagol’ or coconut shell. Intrigued, I opened it up and scooped the dark brown jam with a spoon. Sweet and gooey, I ate the jam as a snack as I ran back to my room. A few hours later, I ventured back into the kitchen only to find the half opened ‘bagol’ attacked by red ants.
Some of the husks were also left under the sun for many days. The dried husk became a mop for our wooden floor. I had so much fun polishing the floor using my right foot on the semi-circle husk like a skateboard.
Unfortunately, the coconut trees were ravaged by time and the onslaught of many typhoons. In 1990, Ruping, one of the worse typhoons in the country, hit the city and broke a lanky coconut tree that used to stand proudly in the middle of our garden. The trees that were left looked weary with unhealthy brown leaves and no longer grew sweet coconuts. The Sunday family lunches also became less and less.
Years passed after I left my hometown, I finally saw coconut water in a tetra pak in an American grocery. I squealed thinking that I could get coconut water without having to travel to Southeast Asia. However on my first sip, I could tell that it was not the fresh coconut water I was used to.
Ironically, I later read on the Wall Street Journal that the coconut water has risen in the Western consumer mass market as the ‘It’ beverage. The Philippines was reported to be one of the top suppliers for coconuts for these tetra pak coconut water producers.[1]
Every time I went back home for a visit, I don’t see anyone climbing the old coconut trees or cracking coconuts. I am still waiting for new coconut trees to grow in our garden. Meanwhile, I have to content myself ordering coconut water in a shell in restaurants. No, I haven’t gotten fat from eating many coconuts.

[1] Mike Esterl, The Beverage Wars Move to Coconut, (Feb 2012).

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