Monday, November 30, 2009

Coconuts and Avocados: Staffs of Life

I'm polishing off the last of the truffle studded goose liver pate while reading my care and handling instructions: The Heart Healthy Low Sodium Diet.

I am feeling very virtuous because goose liver pate (please supply your own accents throughout this piece, I am too limp to bother locating them) does not appear on the taboo list. And whatever minimal issue there might be is entirely offset by the salt-free Carr's Tablewater Crackers that carry each schmear to my mouth. 

Actually, there is no taboo list. They have divided the thing into three columns, noting only that one should "eat less" of the the items on the far right. This is kinder than a sharp "No!" and a rap across the knuckles with a  ruler as I imagine nuns do, or did. Being Jewish, this is what I imagine.

I am content to cut back on many of the foods on the restricted list: TV dinners with over 600 mg of sodium? Piece of cake, along with anchovies, margarine, commercial gravy, canned vegetables and gatorade. Difficult, sure, but doable.

Damn this pate (insert accent) is good.

What does not please me is to see avocados and coconuts in that right side column. Both are at the very foundation of my personal dietary pyramid, the building blocks of life as I know it. Coconut has me in a particular lather, providing as it does the basis for both Mounds bars and coconut patties (their more tropical relations), coconut cake and, of course, the pina colada (supply your own accent).

My sister Bonnie and I were introduced to pina coladas when I was maybe 12 and she was 10. We were on vacation in Puerto Rico with our parents, sitting beneath a palapa bar, out of the sun for a minute or two and dithering about what to drink, when suddenly these frosty white foamy glasses were set in front of us and sparklers went off behind my eyes.

I was transported, immediately elegant, glamorous, so very....Audrey. Poof! Gone in a second went a cocktail world consisting entirely of Shirley Temples and maraschino cherries. Enter the little black dress. The cigarette holder wasn't far behind. 

Though they've grown increasingly embarrassing to order, pina coladas can still transport me.

Give up coconut? I suppose if I asked those dietary fascists for a substitute they'd suggest sniffing Banana Boat, or some other "coconut scented" concoction. (Those are some very thoughtful quotes, by the way, since I'm quoting nothing but a notion.) (And why does Banana Boat not smell of bananas?)

Coconut has no scent. What is being foisted upon us is some clever chemists idea of what it would smell like if it smelled, something derived from its flavor; the way it hits the back of the tongue and reverberates off the roof of the mouth and somehow fills the head with its essence--so you smell it but you don't. As my prince would say, "I hate that."

No, you can't pull that one on me. Substitute perfumery for a drink so frothed with coconut, sugar and rum that it tickles my nose as I lie on a lounge slathered in the amber-warmed scent of Coppertone, watching the breeze ruffle the palm fronds, and contemplating a dip in the Caribbean -- as soon as I've finished this here platter of guacamole.

With unsalted chips.

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