Coco Pazzo was the first thought that popped into my brain when I saw this guy hacking away at coconuts at a roadside stand on the way back to Manila from Nasugbu. In Italian, it means “crazy coconut” literally, and figuratively one’s mind or brain, I guess. Coco Pazzo was the name of a restaurant in New York owned by Pino Luonggo, a chef, cook and author of a cookbook without measurements that I loved. It was about simple Tuscan cooking and was one of my earliest cookbook acquisitions. But what really should have popped into my mind was OMG, this man is fantastically adept with a bolo and I would want him on my “team” any day… :)
We had stopped to buy avocadoes from an impressive looking pile on display. But when we inquired about the coconuts, they offered them for a very reasonably PHP7 each or roughly 15 U.S. cents. Not wanting to load up on the bulky fruit in vehicles already quite full with stuff, this coconut man said he could trim the coconuts in no time so it would be easier to transport. So thinking this would be just a few minutes (say 10-12 minutes delay), we agreed. After picking out the coconuts we wanted, he went off and got his bolo…
And I swear it took him 10 seconds at most to make short shrift of one coconut. Have you ever tried to take off the ought outer layer of a fresh coconut? It isn’t so easy. And you not only have to have accurate aim but sufficient momentum and a very sharp bolo to do this right. And he was holding onto the coconut at all times! I was seriously impressed.
Asked how long he had been doing this, he said over 10 years, and I can assure you he qualifies as an absolute expert. He made it seem absolutely effortless, and he struck the coconuts with such accuracy, his fingers just an inch or two aways from the intended strikepoint. He was totally complete on the digit front, so he obviously never chopped off a finger in his many thousands of coconuts he had handled over the years!
I took over 15 pictures trying to catch him with the bolo up in the air and then I asked him to slow down a bit and despite his trying, he obviously had a comfortable rhythm that worked and I realized disturbing this timing could be dangerous. He smiled throughout the process, chatted about this and that, and just 2-3 minutes of hacking away, we had 15 cleaned up coconuts ready to load into the car! Amazing.
In many ways, I am amazed by folks like this, who have such a specialized skill honed over many thousands of hours of practical application… and of course, the service was thrown in entirely FREE of CHARGE, as part of the sale price of the coconut. I was so thrilled, I bought a whole langka from them as well. And with such good cheery service, I will definitely stop at this farm stand again on future forays.
Placed in coolers and soaked in ice, the coconuts were superb when enjoyed later that day… Now if I matched up this guy with one of the gals in Cebu that chop up lechons with a vengeance, can you imagine what their fights might be like? Yipes. :)