Tree of life and jewel of the tropics
Discover, taste, weave
Today I have an appointment at Maison du Coco: in this farm in Saint-Leu, I’m going to learn all about the hundreds of uses for the coconut palm and its nuts.
It’s the most well known tropical tree, and yet we know so little about it. At La Pointe-des-Châteaux, in the hills of Saint-Leu, on their 7 hectare plantation, which is also an educational farm, Mireille and Didier invite visitors to learn all about the coconut palm, the true tree of life.
We begin with a tour of the coconut plantation at Maison du Coco, during which our hosts tell us all about the origins of this extraordinary palm. Originally from the Pacific, the coconut palm conquered the whole of the tropical world, to the point of becoming the symbol of exoticism. There’s no doubting that its hundreds of uses benefit entire populations!
Wood and nuts
I learn for example that the trunk of the coconut palm produces a very decorative wood with a very fine grain, which is used to make djembes. And that coconuts are often broken, as an offering, in the Hindu religion for which it symbolises man’s ego. They are used in great quantities in ceremonies on Reunion Island!
Mireille and Didier now invite us to join the weaving workshop. The green leaves from coconut palms, folded and worked by expert hands, can be transformed into various utilitarian or ornamental objects. In a few minutes even a beginner can make a small unpretentious handmade item, that they can take home as a souvenir!
Everything about the coconut is good. The virtues of its oil are well known, for massage and in cosmetics. The shell of the nuts also lends itself all sorts of artistic creations. But of course it is their flesh that interests me – gourmet that I am! Fortunately the culinary workshop is open. Here we learn how to break the nut with a knife in one go, collect the refreshing water, grate the flesh to make delicious “coco sweets“.
When it is still fresh, the pressed flesh produces a milk that can be mixed with rum to make a punch with an incomparable flavour: that we will soon enjoy sipping as an aperitif. The half-day of discovery ends with a lunch* where coconut is served in all its forms, from the main dish to dessert. You can never get enough of it!
*Lunch with supplement
“Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health. To be consumed in moderation”