Very cold fresh buko juice is one of lifeâ€™s simplest and finest pleasures if you live back here on one of the 7,107 islands in the Philippine archipelago. Soon after the Christmas holidays, we packed up several burros worth of luggage (predominantly food) and headed out to the Batangas shoreline for close to a week of fun in the sun. We had several waves or sets of houseguests over that period and as usual, it was non-stop eating, albeit in a far more relaxed manner. If we have timed it right, and had sufficient space in the car, we almost always buy fresh buko on the way to the beach and as soon as we get there, throw the whole nuts into the pool to cool them down. Yes, floating coconuts in the pool always seems to draw visitorâ€™s attention, but it is smart, you have to admitâ€¦
When foreign guests come for a first time visit, we really try to give them a dose of local food and drinkâ€¦ and after a 2-3 hour ride where they probably had a few near heart stopping moments in the car as the driver swerved to avoid a chicken crossing the road, a kid darting out of a roadside sari-sari store, or an abrupt stop due to a jeepney disgorging a passenger in the center of the two-lane highway, a nice cool drink is always welcome. Fresh coconut juice is reputed to calm unsettled stomachs and though I have seen no medical proof, it does the trick for me. So when guests text that they are just a few minutes away, we extract the coconuts from the pool, remove the tough skin, and bury them in lots and lots of shaved ice from the local bayan ice plant and set them outâ€¦ when the guests get in and are settled, they will almost always have the juice of a coconut and if adventurous, the meat is scooped out as well!
This welcome drink never fails to impress. It is so basic, so satisfying and so delicious. At PHP10-13 pesos a coconut depending on how close to the trees you buy them, they actually cost less than a canned soda! And for PHP40, you can get a half block or so of ice that will fill one large cooler after it is crushed and that is enough ice for a dozen or more coconutsâ€¦ If you have leftover coconut meat and juice, make some buko pandan coolers, buko pandan salad or even buko pie! Yes, sometimes the simplest things make the strongest impressions…