For the past three days I have been craving something that I have never made and never even tasted. Coconut pudding. Where the notion for such a thing came from I have no idea. But here I am, craving something sweet and cold, refreshing but creamy, the kind of dessert that takes two bites to get off the spoon. Comfort food.
With the ever growing popularity of coconut water it has become pretty easy to get access to the stuff. As with most trends, once it catches on there are people who become purists, which, as far as I can tell, in the case of coconut water, means getting it raw, or better yet, straight out of a green coconut. In this case, the purists are right. Many of the boxed and canned coconut waters taste too sweet, too processed, like the flavor of coconut instead of the thing itself. If you live somewhere with a good Asian market or close to a Whole Foods, you can easily get your hands on a young Thai coconut. It’s worth the dicey work with a cleaver just to get at that fresh, almost effervescent, incomparable water.
Once you’ve refreshed yourself with the water you’re left with silky coconut meat which bears little resemblance to the chalky flesh you find in the drier, brown-husked variety. This is slippery and almost gelatinous to the touch but dense when you sink your teeth in and delicate in taste.
Traditional pudding involves cream and milk and actual cooking. Maybe it’s the hot weather, maybe it’s the past weeks of a sprint-paced life, maybe it’s as simple as missing someone I love who now is gone. Whatever the reason, I really needed this pudding to be simple, no-frills, easy to make and comforting to eat. I recently read that the Sanskrit word for coconut palm means “tree that gives all that is necessary for living.” Eating this, barefoot in my dusty backyard, a thin slice of moon rising in the twilight, and not a sound but the crickets and my spoon against the bowl, I just might have to agree.