The Bodden Town Cultural Committee is going nuts. Anything and everything you can imagine coconut-related will be made or displayed at a coconut festival on Saturday.
The free one-day cultural festival offers entertainment, coconut crafts, coconut games, coconut foods, and more.
It’s all happening at Nurse Josie’s Senior Center off Gun Square in Bodden Town from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.
“The idea of a coconut fest was husked out of the need to celebrate this phenomenal plant, which played a huge part in Caymanians’ everyday life long ago,” said Pedro Watler, public relations officer for the cultural committee.
“Some of the best artists, entertainers and artisans are invited to take advantage of this unique opportunity to display and sell any coconut product, such as trees, food, milk, nuts, oil, crafts and more,” said Andrea Calderon, cultural committee secretary.
Visitors will also get to see cooking demonstrations from people of various nationalities as they bring their coconut recipes from other countries.
Those who attend may also choose to take part in hands-on cultural activities that will deeper connect them to island life here and to the countries of people from other nations who live in Cayman.
Due to the importance of the tree, and the many uses the coconut has, including its myriad health benefits that older Caymanians were aware of, the committee feels it is important to educate other generations about how coconuts can contribute to a healthy living.
“History speaks for itself. How many people do we have living today to 100 and 100-plus – not many,” said Florence Wood, the committee’s deputy chairwoman.
“Our ancestors used coconut milk in every dish – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then people starting saying it was no good for you. Now all we hear is how beneficial coconut is to health and the many things that can be made from it. We knew that all along,” said Ms. Wood.
The festival is free to attend and features chefs and food vendors offering baked goods, coconut farmers, musicians and vendors promoting health and wellness through the use of coconuts.
Some of Cayman’s elders will demonstrate the many ways that coconut and coconut products can be used.
“When I was growing up, everything we ate was coconut based, whether it was salt or sweet, and everything that came from the sea was prepared with coconut,” said Ms. Wood.
“Coconut products are used in baking, frying, stewing, steaming and boiling, and in making shoes, ornaments, strainers and so much more. We made coconut oil, coconut cream, candies, tarts, cakes jams custard-top corn bread, yam and cassava cakes. Porridge was also boiled and served with coconut milk,” Ms. Wood said.
She said a coconut can be used in various stages of its life. When small, it can be decorated to make ornaments. A tool like a machete or cleaver can be used to open the husk. If done correctly, the machete will break through part of the inner hard shell to the water. Besides being highly nutritious and refreshing, coconut water has been touted as having medicinal qualities for heart, liver and kidney disorders.
The festival promises to be fun for the whole family, with children’s games, coconut contests and cultural performers.
Coconut in the kitchen
If you want to start experimenting with coconut in the kitchen, here are some favorite recipes – corn beef and sea pie, coconut tarts and fish rundown.
- Blend the flesh from two dry coconuts
- Strain milk into pan
- Bring to a boil, add onion, sweet pepper, Scotch bonnet, black pepper, yam, cassava, breadfruit, banana, ripe plantain, sweet and Irish potatoes, coco, pumpkin
- Bring to boil- add fish and season pot with salt
- Simmer on low heat for half hour
- Corn beef and sea pie
- Blend the flesh from one dry coconut
- Combine 2 cups flour, half teaspoon salt and half cup water; knead and set aside
- Strain coconut milk in pan and to be imaginative, use the bark of the coconut tree as strainer
- Add seasonings – Scotch bonnet pepper, salt and pepper, green onions, sweet pepper and thyme and one large tin of corn beef
- Bring to a boil
- Roll dough flat on table
- Cut into tiny squares stretch each square before dropping into the boiling mixture
- Cook for 20 minutes and serve
- Blend the flesh of one dry coconut
- Add 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, half a grated nutmeg and one lime to coconut mixture
- Bring to boil
- Cook mixture until soft and sticky and milk has evaporated – about an hour and a half
- Set aside
- Make dough
- Combine 2 cups flour, half teaspoon salt, half of a stick of margarine and half cup water
- Roll dough flat with rolling pin and cut into patty-size pieces
- Add 2 spoons of coconut mixture to dough, fold and pinch ends together
- Put on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown