One of my earliest memories of food is the musty, sweet, dried wild grass smell of coconut milk slurped out of a giant green coconut, cut fresh by skinny young boys from the lanky palms of Goa, India. I was about three years old and on a family holiday from South Africa. The distinct smell is something I associated with exotic places and the taste of the milk itself, is not something I took to straight away. In fact the next time I drank green coconut milk was in Maputo, Mozambique as an adult in January 2000. And perhaps, by then, my tastebuds had matured so I did not recoil from the earthy flavour.
Coconut however, has been part of my diet since childhood (Hindu upbringing!). If the milk of mature coconuts was not being drunk, we’d be eating the flesh, my sister and I hollowing out the shell to be able to poke out the eyes in the spherical shell with the uneven crack created when the coconut was split in half. My grandmother would also finely slice coconut meat and roast it in the oven to make chevdah (a savoury snack with nuts, spices, toasted cereals, and colour-flecked coconut).
Why these thoughts of coconut, and why today? I’m making my own muesli and adding slivers of roasted coconut to the mix of cashew, walnuts, brazils, chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, pinenuts, hulled sunflower and pumpkin seeds, whole rolled oats, rye flakes and puffed mixed grains lightly coated in honey. That’s going to be breakfast tomorrow and will taste fantastic with ice cold milk, and perhaps, chopped banana dusted with cinnamon.