Monday, May 6, 2013

Coconut Milk and Cocoa

When he wanted someone to fetch the breakfast that my mother had prepared for him, hot cocoa without milk, codfish stewed with coconut oil and onions, and lettuce and tomato salad, I was it.” The Talking Palm
Sheryl, the main character in The Talking Palm, grows up helping her father bake bread in her family's bakery in Dominica. She usually gets up while the village is still asleep to help her father prepare the bread for the morning rush. In addition to kneading and rolling and blasting dough into loaves, albeit to her father's dissatisfaction, Sheryl does other errands, which she would prefer not to do, but must.
One of these errands includes fetching her father's breakfast. Sometimes that breakfast includes hot cocoa with no milk. Without milk, the tea is deep brown with a pure earthy taste. Who could afford to buy evaporated or powder milk to whiten cocoa tea and make it more palatable? But sweetened cocoa tea flavored with cinnamon or lime skin or bay leaf or nutmeg tasted as good as it could be.
Coconut milk could surely add a delicious blast to the dark cocoa. But Sheryl's mother would have had to find the coconut, break it, grind it and then milk it for its tongue-pleasing effect. Which mother has that time?
Fortunately, in America, we don't need that hard labor. We can just run to our local supermarket, grab a tin of coconut milk, one of the healthiest milks in the world, and add some to our cocoa tea. Then, while relaxing at the table, we just surrender to that tongue-teasing flavor of coconut milk and cocoa. Ah.
By Esther Jno-Charles, author of The Talking Palm

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