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Eating coconuts: The Filipino vs European preference

Knowing the Philippines as one of the leading exporters of coconuts in the world, I was pretty excited to live in a country where coconut trees grew everywhere—even in our own backyard.

I might be the biggest coconut lover in the world. I love everything coconut-related and coconut flavoured: crunchy coconut pieces, coconut sprinkles, coconut flavoured ice cream, coconut flavoured chocolate, coconut flavoured cakes, and so on, and so on.

The European Style of Eating Coconuts

Well, here comes the problem: In Europe we eat coconuts that are crunchy and hard. From the outside they have the brown, hairy shell and on the inside, the white meat is so hard, crunchy, and full of flavour.

When I told the people here, that in Finland we eat coconuts brown, hairy, and crunchy they laugh. Here, those kinds of coconuts can even be found on the beach, being washed ashore by the sea. The only use for those is to make coconut oil out of them, so I was told. The locals here couldn’t even believe that in Finland we pay a lot of money for these “old” coconuts in supermarkets.

The Filipino Style of Eating Coconuts

Here in the Philippines on the other hand, they prefer to eat them when they are still green on the outside and the meat inside is soft, smooth, and—in my opinion—without the typical crunchy coconut flavour. It is called Buko. So here, everything coconut flavoured means that the ingredient will be Buko, the soft and smooth coconut meat of a young fruit.

I will never forget my first time in the Philippines more than 5 years ago when I was staring at the tall coconut trees, wondering what those green, round “fruits” were. “Coconuts? Ah ok, so that’s how they look like when they are not ripe yet”, I said.

It turns out, they were as ripe as could be in their green shell with its soft white meat inside.

Coconut trees bearing "ripe" coconuts by Filipino standard
Coconut trees bearing “ripe” coconuts by Filipino standard

No Right and Wrong

All this leads to a never-ending discussion between Arthur and me about which of the two is the “correct and ripe” one, He obviously prefers the green coconut, while I’m used to the brown one. It’s a discussion that will never find agreement. Different countries, different kind of ways to prepare and eat food, but there is no right or wrong.

A coconut harvester
A coconut harvester