shopping for coconut

oh, my husky friend, you have every reason to be afraid....

i needed coconut for my IMBB entry; last weekend i tried doing it myself by scrounging around the yard for one (i guess storm/pink party wiped us out), then grating it without the benefit of a coconut grater--something i wouldn't recommend. all i got was a measly cup and a nasty scar. i usually get mine by begging an uncle to do it for me, eh, there's a bunch of roadside vegetable stands that are nearby, one of them's bound to have a coconut for me.

most of the vegetable stands on island are run by vietnamese; many of them arrived on island in 1975, when guam became a refugee camp for the many airlifted out during the war.

i went to mai's, across the street from seaside mart. i don't normally go here, but it was the first one i came across.

almost all her produce is local; because of the recent tropical storm, the stand was relatively understocked. i was looking for an older coconut--niug in tagalog, niyyok in chamorro, niu in hawaiian (and nazi in swahili!). the coconut we used for the coconut sorbete is known as buko and too young for what i need.

she did have a few coconuts, but they were all just a little old. still, they were passable, so i bought one. the nice thing about the stands is that almost all of them have electric coconut graters (just a small motor with a giant burr attached, really) so you can spare yourself the grief. mai took her machete and cut the coconut cleanly in half (holding it in one hand, i might add. i'm surprised she still has two). when she cracked it open, this is what we found:

i think it's called a coconut flower. in our particular dialect in the philippines (pampangan, if anyone's interested), it's known as a tumbong--a spongey, cellulose mass saturated in coconut milk. you know your coconut's a little old if you come across one of these (it's the beginning stage of sprouting to become a tree). it is completely edible, and quite delicious (i don't think you can cook with it--does anyone know?).

mai gets to work, gratin' that coconut.

the final product!


Wow - I've never seen a "coconut flower" before. And who knew there was a device just for grating coconut. I feel guilty now - I get mine out of a bag!

hi cathy

believe me, if i could get away with getting coconut out of a bag, i'd be a happy camper. coconuts are such a huge part of both the filipino and chamorro (local guam) culture, nothing but the "real" thing will do!

Hi Santos,

OMG, that coconut guy really does look scary...

Hi Santos,

I've never seen the inside of a coconut look like that before. I wouldn't know what to do. The freshly grated coconut must taste delicious....by the way, what are you planning to make? =)

hi reid

a few months ago, one of my cousins had a strange lump on his head--we told him it was one of these things growing out of his head! he wasn't very amused....

hi chika

yeah, coconut guy is scary. i enjoyed cracking his face in half.