Cooking and eating through a new culture

The Power of Pipas

A year and a half ago I listen to an article on NPR about coconut water. It talked about how over the past five years it has been gaining popularity and that Coke and Pepsi were trying to tap into the market. The show noted that annual sales have grown from near zero five years ago to 30 to $35 million today.


I was curious. Coconut water? I never really liked coconut. Processed/bagged coconut tasted horrible to me and it’s consistency in baked goods reminded me of fiberglass. No, I was not a fan and pretty much avoided it at all costs. But the few times in my life I had fresh coconut, I did like it. There is a unique creamy sweetness to fresh coconut that is absolutely lacking in the commercial variety. The transition from processed/packaged was tremendous. My experiences with Asian foods brought me in contact with coconut milk. Used in recipes, I found it tolerable but I was always a bit leery. My food consumption and preparation was heavily leaning to the “100 mile rule” and that was just an easy way to keep coconuts out of my repertoire. But an opportunity to visit Hawaii blew that out the door. Coconuts are all over the damn place there, so when in Rome…I bought coconut water. And HOLY SHIT, it’s good!!!

I was hooked. Especially when I would go to my local co-op and see it in the shelves. Not necessarily a winter drink, but when the weather warmed, I found it to be wonderfully refreshing. It doesn’t taste like coconut at all. Fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie, super-hydrating, naturally rich in electrolytes, what more can you ask for?! You can go the various web sites and they talk about coconut water be the equivalent of liquid nirvana. Yeah, and some people drink their own urine too. Truthfully, they do use coconut water as human plasma in some countries, like the one I am living in, but all the other “super” claims, who knows? I just like it…the coconut water, that is. Not the urine.

So imagine my glee while driving down here to see fresh coconut water for sale on the side of the road! To get this fabulous water you need to use green coconuts, known as pipas. Ripe, or yellow, coconuts have already absorbed the liquid inside to form the flesh we are used to eating. In green ones, the flesh is thin and rubbery. Not tasty at all. By mashing ripe coconut with the remaining liquid inside  and straining, you get coconut milk. For coconut water, all you need is a good Costa Rican can opener…aka, a machete. With a good sharp machete, you cut away chunks off the top until you get close to the core. They you pierce, or if you are really good with that machete, slice the top and insert a straw.

In the Caribbean, we have coconut trees on the property. Rafa will collect pipas water for me and will put in the in freezer to chill. Nothing says love than watching your man climb a coconut plant (cause it’s not a tree), braving snakes and spiders, to get your fix of pipas water. The funny thing is, he will not drink it. Rafa has bradycardia, which means his heart beats very slowly, and he says the coconut water makes him light-headed. All the more for me…

Now, I am about to share with you a secret. I have a tendency to imbibe in my fair share of alcoholic beverages (that’s not the secret) and on occasion I have been over served. How do you think this blog got started? There have been mornings were I have been a little numb and stingy. Some people like to call them, hangovers. Most people I know have their remedy, cause most people I know get over served too, but this is my favorite and by far, best:

Make a banana milkshake but with coconut water,  and sweeten it with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the coconut water soothes and re-hydrates your system. Don’t quaff it down either. It’s a sipping drink. Best served on a comfy couch, with bad TV.


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3 thoughts on “The Power of Pipas

  1. savemylifestories on said:

    I am definitely trying this banana-coconut water-honey drink!! Sounds amazing. You have a lot of great ideas throughout your blog — I’m hooked!

  2. Matilde on said:

    I love coconut water in Italy I drink ococo

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