I'll admit, I've been rolling my eyes at the mention of coconut water for weeks. No, not coconut milk: the luscious, creamy liquid intent to add richness to curries and infuse desserts with tropical whisperings. If you happen to be on any sort of rigid regimen, coconut milk practically shoves a mini drink umbrella in your hand and begs you to run off to the Maldives. Come right in, it murmurs, the milk's just fine.
While—on the other side of the island—coconut water is doing exactly the opposite. Instead of leading you to sanctuary, it’s guilt-tripping you: telling you to get off your beach chair, put down the rum, you lush, and go kitesurfing.
Now, perhaps these generalizations occurred because I associated this fairly new to market coconut water with people who relentlessly talk about their calves; who seem to be in a constant panic about their hydration status; and, perhaps, who are perpetually wearing Lycra.
Not that there is a thing wrong with any of that, it’s just that I was unimpressed with the novelty of drinking the water—instead of the milk—of a coconut and had certain presumptions. I wasn’t all that interested in coconut water’s purported natural ability to replenish electrolytes. Nor did I fancy myself much of a kitesurfer.
But then free coconut water samples showed up at yoga. And in a goodie bag I received at a hotel event. And in a box that was suspiciously mailed to my office. Someone—or some coconut deity—was trying to tell me something. And it finally hit me over the head.
This coconut water was meant to make a guest appearance in the basmati rice I had been planning for dinner. I wanted fluffy rice, with a side of tropical escape from this wintry slop: and coconut milk would have mucked that up, making rice that was too sticky and heavy. Coconut water, on the other hand, is extracted by drawing only water, not fat; serving as a perfect liquid to bathe my rice in.
And since the water I received was lightly flavored with passion fruit juice, its slight sweetness brightly complimented the pinch of saffron and healthy dose of cardamom I threw into the pot. It was just the ticket. Rice to help you remember that winter won't last forever, while gently nudging that bathing suit season is closer than you think.
Admittedly—ahem—a fleeting sentiment, as I soon realized that this slightly spicy, floral rice would be perfect for coconut rice pudding. So I put down the bathing suit and picked up the coconut milk. At this very moment, I can’t think of a more quintessential dessert than creamy coconut rice pudding to counteract the slush outside: which a bikini just ain't gonna help with.
I suppose, all in all, I actually wound up with two tickets to paradise this week. Which is fine by me. Turn out the coconut water’s just fine too. As for bathing suit season: best reach for a spoon and wait for the snow to stop.