My friend from Rio just informed me via the global connectedness of social media, that Unidos da Tijuca are the Samba School Champions of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval!!! I was fortunate enough to be a part of this electrifying spectacle in 2011 and it was honestly an event in which I could compare to no other. I’m talking jaw dropping effects and fantastic people watching, did I mention it lasts all night long!
Anyway this bit of news drew my mind to a daydreaming state of Brazilian coastline, sunshine, bright colors and basically lulling the day away to whatever my heart desired. Some of these lulls were filled by taking it to the playa (beach) donning a swim suit, a kanga (popular with the locals, basically a sarong) and a floppy straw hat (not to mention slathered in spf 50 for my pale skin!) Brazilians understand how to beach….none of this– let’s just lay here and flip and tan and flip and tan….no no no they have fun umbrellas and food stands and cheese grillers and beer! Sure you had the option of just flipping and tanning but they offer so much more!
I’m actually getting to the point of this post which is one of my fondest memories from Brazil…Agua de Coco!!! A young, green coconut. Yep, a delightful green coconut which is macheted open right before your eyes! A straw is then submerged into the depths of the thirst-quenching pureness of sweet, slightly salty coconut water. The bulbous green coconut you hold in the palm of your hand, while gazing out across the sand to the beckoning waves of the Atlantic. The straw touches your lips, you take a sip and right then, there could be no wrong in the world ! Okay, okay so maybe it’s not that good but it’s pretty darn close! Don’t even dare compare it to the Tetra Pak or plastic bottled coconut water because sadly, it’s just not the same.
Not only do young coconuts deliver pure joy but they yield natural minerals, potassium and vitamin c. They are chuck full of electrolytes…I’m talking almost as much as human plasma, not to mention being known for boosting the immune system, and antibacterial properties. In fact, in some third world countries young green coconuts have been used as an IV (intravenous solution) when saline solution is not available.
In recent years mass marketing has caught on to the young green coconut, hence the Tetra Pak and plastic bottles you now see on grocery store shelves. Companies such as PepsiCo and Coke are marketing their coconut water products to athletes and health enthusiasts and it’s becoming a big business. Personally, I believe it’s great to market a healthy natural product buuuut these coconut water products from the likes of PepsiCo or Coke typically come with additives, flavoring, sugars and are pasteurized. It may bring some of us who live in landlocked, non-tropical locales a taste of the beach life but it’s just not as healthy as the real deal.
Now, I am one of those people who live in a non-tropical locale so, no palm trees and no coconuts for hundreds and hundreds of miles. I am also one to find ways to get something I want…especially when I have a taste for it! So, I have passed up the PepsiCo and Coke coconut packaged products (although I’ll have one if I must and O.N.E. brand from Pepsi is in my opinion the best and Zico the worst.) I did find that my local Indian, Mexican and Asian markets carry young green coconuts (see below.) These are not macheted right before your eyes and they are missing the green encasing but they are untouched, natural coconuts that will taste great and remind you of the beach! If you are looking to buy some for yourself it’s worth a mention that I prefer the Brazilian coconuts over the Asian, only because the Asian one’s taste sweeter (I have no idea why…perhaps you’ll have to google it 🙂 ), so whichever suits your fancy!
For those who really want the real thing you can actually get them mail-ordered to you from Florida but the cost of shipping is excessive. Yet, if you are a diehard and just have to have your agua de coco fix then check out: http://www.florida-coconuts.com/