Cuckoo for Coconuts

During our vacation to Mexico earlier this month, we were surrounded by all kinds of plants we can't grow. We've resigned ourselves to having to buy our citrus, bananas, and avocados, but then we discovered something else: coconuts.

On the beach in Tulum, a Mayan vendor and his son walked the beach selling freshly harvested coconuts. We bought a small bag filled with a bunch of slices, as you can see in the photo above. 

Fresh coconut is nothing like the shredded, dried stuff you get in the grocery store to make macaroons. Although I like that too, the fresh slices are much more nutty in flavor. The texture is kind of like a water chestnut, although not quite that moist. It's really good, and feels like somehow eating a cool, refreshing protein. Too bad there's no way to recreate that here at home.

It was also a main ingredient in this mole dish I had for dinner that night:

None of the white ingredients you are looking at is the coconut. What you see is sour cream, some shreds of queso blanco, and onion slices. But inside the chocolate mole sauce is a fair amount of that nutty coconut, as well as a bit of honey. And probably a ton of of other stuff. This was the sweetest mole I have ever had, and it was really interesting.   

The tree is also a pretty cool plant: 

This one was growing on the grounds of our hotel at Chichen Itza. Coconut palms are pretty impressive in their ability to root in very poor, dry soil. Although the one above is on grass, most of the Yucatan peninsula has very little topsoil over a shelf of limestone. We saw some growing on just or sand as well throughout the trip.

Not all palm trees have coconuts, but it's pretty obvious which ones do. All you have to do is look up!

Or down. I also came across this coconut nursery, where you can see new growth sprouting out of a collection of coconuts. Seed starting writ large, but not so very different as the small trays of seedlings waiting for us back at home.


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