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coconuts-msg – 11/27/05

 

Period use of coconuts in Europe and the Middle East. Opening coconuts.

 

NOTE: See also the files: nuts-msg, fruits-msg, bananas-msg, grapes-msg, almond-milk-msg, berries-msg, pomegranates-msg, fruit-citrus-msg, fruit-melons-msg.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.

 

Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

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Date: Wed, 03 May 2000 10:13:46 -0400

From: Elaine Koogler <ekoogler at chesapeake.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Re:groundnut stew recipe/ fixed oop

 

I've made coconut milk...when I lived in Papua New Guinea...even used a coconut

from a tree on the plantation where I lived.  However, you can get results that

are just as good by going to your local grocery store and purchasing the canned

coconut milk...not the sweetened kind (Coco Lopez or something similar) that you

find in the mixer section, but unsweetend that can usually be found in the

international foods section.  Oriental groceries also usually have it.

 

Kiri

 

 

Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 18:01:14 -0500

From: "Daniel Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Coconuts in Period

 

The first "Western mention I know of the coconut was in 545 A.D. by Cosmos

Indicopleustes, an Egyptian monk who visited western India and Ceylon.  In

his Topographia Christians, he describes it as the "great nut of India."

Marco Polo in 1280 described it growing in Sumatra, and Madras and Malabar

in India, calling it nux indica, the Indian nut.  The first detailed Western

description of the coconut palm was provided by the Italian explorer

Lodovico di Varthema in his Itinerario in 1510, where he referred to it as

tenga.  The name cocos is believed to be derived from the Spanish word

"coco" meaning "monkey face."  This was derived by the Spanish and

Portuguese explorers imagining that the inner nut's three spots looked like

a monkey face.

 

I've seen pictures of 16th century footed goblets the bowl of which was a

polished coconut.  For further information on this and other nuts check out

"The Book of Edible Nuts" by Fredrick Rosengarten, Jr.  I have a signed

copy, it's a great book.

 

Daniel Raoul

 

 

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Wierd but Cool Kitchen Gadgets

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 11:58:15 -0600

From: Prydwen <gryphon at carlsbadnm.com>

To: "Mark.S Harris (rsve60)" <mark.s.harris at motorola.com>

 

>I sometimes see coconuts in the grocery here. What is the best way to

>'open' a coconut to get at the inside? A big hammer? A saw? Does

>it vary depending upon whether the coconut is green or brown and

>hairy (I assume the last is ripe or past ripe and the former is

>not, and probably not available in my area). Do the brown hairy

>ones have coconut milk in them or it is just 'meat' by then?

>

>Stefan li Rous

 

Hey Stefan, 8^)

 

Pick up brown hairy coconut, shake vigorously, hear the milk slosh around,

then look on the ends.  There are three indentations, like two eyes and a

pursed mouth, poke a clean ice pick or screwdriver

into a hole and drain milk, then crack or saw shell. Hammers work, as do

saws. I love the stuff, grew up on it in Florida.

 

As to the green ones, the only green ones I ever saw were the ones with the

husk still on.  We'd take a chisel and get a section started, like peeling

an orange.  Remove all the husk and there's your basic brown hairy

coconut.  I think that in some areas the top of the whole nut is removed

when the  nut hasn't hardened yet, using a machete, and the milk is poured

out then.  Hope this is helpful.

 

Prydwen

 

 

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 14:21:06 -0400

From: Elaine Koogler <ekoogler at chesapeake.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Wierd but Cool Kitchen Gadgets

 

I believe that the best way here is to use a hammer. However, the nationals in PNG use the back of a bush knife...used to scare the heck out of me.  I always worried that they would cut me, someone standing behind them or themselves...but I never saw even the kids hurt themselves! They would hold the nut in their hands and whack it, then turn it around on the same line and whack it again...continuing this until the nut broke into neat halves!  Guess that shows what practice'll do for you!

 

Kiri

 

> Kiri said:

>> I did forget about one "weird gizmo" that I have.  It's a board to which a kind

>> of hook-shaped piece of metal has been attached. The outside edge of this piece

>> has teeth filed into it.  It's used to "grate" the meat from inside a coconut.

>> You sit on the board, with the metal piece in front of you, then take half a

>> coconut and grate the meat from inside the shell. It sounds weird, but it's

>> very efficient.  It is used extensively in Papua New Guinea for this purpose,

>> and was made for me by my houseboy when I lived there.

>

> I sometimes see coconuts in the grocery here. What is the best way to

> 'open' a coconut to get at the inside? A big hammer? A saw? Does

> it vary depending upon whether the coconut is green or brown and

> hairy (I assume the last is ripe or past ripe and the former is

> not, and probably not available in my area). Do the brown hairy

> ones have coconut milk in them or it is just 'meat' by then?

>

> Stefan li Rous

> stefan at texas.net

 

 

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 18:56:46 -0000

From: "Olwen the Odd" <olwentheodd at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Wierd but Cool Kitchen Gadgets

 

>I sometimes see coconuts in the grocery here. What is the best way to

>'open' a coconut to get at the inside? A big hammer? A saw? Does

>it vary depending upon whether the coconut is green or brown and

>hairy (I assume the last is ripe or past ripe and the former is

>not, and probably not available in my area). Do the brown hairy

>ones have coconut milk in them or it is just 'meat' by then?

>

>Stefan li Rous

 

I am assuming you are speaking of the already hulled coconuts.  The not

hulled ones are rather large and more or less three sided. If you are

talking about those ignore what I am about to write and re-state.

 

The little round brown coconuts with three little "eyes" on one end should

have a sloshing sound when you shake them.  If they don't they are very old

and won't be nearly as good.  Generally you would drive an ice-pick or

screwdriver or corkscrew through the "eyes" and drain the liquid into a

glass.  Then bang the coconut open with a hammer.  I place them partially

wrapped in a towel and put in a close fitting box or castiron pot to break

them open.  Less chance of shell and meat going flying all over the room.  

The fresher the coconut (if it has milk in it) the easier it is to remove

from the shell.  The milk can be used in any number of ways but I usually

just find a thimble of rum and drink it.

 

Olwen who used to shake them from trees and bust them on rocks

 

 

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 19:02:22 EDT

From: Weaver8002 at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Wierd but Cool Kitchen Gadgets

 

> What is the best way to

> 'open' a coconut to get at the inside? A big hammer? A saw? Does

> it vary depending upon whether the coconut is green or brown and

> hairy (I assume the last is ripe or past ripe and the former is

> not, and probably not available in my area). Do the brown hairy

> ones have coconut milk in them or it is just 'meat' by then?

 

I've only seen the brown hairy type.  My friend, Sarah, heats them in the

oven until they pop.  My mother use to beat them with a hammer.

Margherita

 

 

Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001 23:39:03 +0200

From: tgl at mailer.uni-marburg.de

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Noce d'India

 

<< ... where did you get the reference to using "a ground powder from

the kernel of coconut"? >>

 

This was an attempt to make sense of two passages in herbals. One is the

German Hortus Sanitatis (1485) where it is said that the inner parts

("das ynwendig") are used for medicinal purposes and where it is said to

use it as a powder ("gepuluert"). The second place is the herbal of

Mattioli in the German edition of Camerarius who call the inner parts

"Der Kern" (the kernel; Nucleus). Now I am not sure what exactly should

be used from these inner parts, at any rate, one of the internal uses

begins: "Diese N=FCsse gepuluert mit Zimmetr=F6ren ..." (These nuts powdered

with cinnamon ...). -- I am not sure if this makes sense in respect to

coconut or if there was some old confusion between the two. E.g., the

Hortus sanitatis says that some authorities say nux indica is humorally

warm and dry, and that other authorities say that it is warm and moist.

Now, coconut is said to be warm in the second degree and moist in the

first degree. Nux muscata is said to be warm in the second degree too,

but DRY in the second degree. Given the fact that the term _nux indica_

was also used to designate nutmeg (at least this is what 15th century

German glossaries say) this might be a source of mixing up some

properties of coconut and nutmeg.

 

The next question: whether or not

<< ...Coconut may possibly have been *eaten* at this time. >>

 

I don't know, but here are some passages that point to "yes" for certain

regions and certain times.

 

1. Europe's medical texts from the arabic tradition deal with the

question of how easy or not certain parts can be digested and they

mention combinations that ease digestion.

 

2. Albrecht Duerer, the famous artist, in his 1520 Diary of a travel to

the Netherlands, at least three times says that he was given

"jndianische nu=DF" (indian nuts, probably coconuts), two times from a

Portuguese he meat there:

-- "Mein wirth hat mir geschenckt ein jndianische nus" (D=FCrer, Tagebuch,

ed. Stupperich 156b.6; dazu Anmerkung S. 185: "Kokosnu=DF")

-- "Die mahl hab ich mit Portugales gessen: jj. Der Ruderigo hat mir 6

jndianische nu=DF geschenckt" (ebd. 162a.23f.)

-- "Jtem am samstag vor Judicae hat mir der Ruderigo geschenckt 6

jndianische gro=DF nu=DF, gar ein sonder h=FCbsche corallen ..." (ebd.

166b.220f.)

'Rodrigo donated me with 6 big indian nuts'.

 

All in all, Duerer got 13 indian nuts on three occasions (there may be

more passages in the diary that have escaped me). He does not state what

he did with them. But as Rodrigo often donates Duerer with other food

stuff, I guess they could have been meant for consumption.

 

3. There is a 1536 text from France on trees, fruits etc. [pdf-version

at http://gallica.bnf.fr] in which the author mentions that the inner

parts of nux indica were eaten by noble Italian women. A very

interesting passage:

 

"Caeterum nucis Indicae nucleo matronas Venetas nobiliores vti solitas

audiuimus, vt pinguiores & saginatiores suis viris appareant" (Robert

Estienne, Seminarium arborum, 1536, p. 105)

 

'In addition we have heard that noble women of Venice used to eat the

kernel (the inner parts) of the Indian Nut, in order to look more fat

and more corpulent to their husbands'

 

This is in spirit with what the medical authors say about nux indica,

e.g. Castore Durante in his herbal: "reddit edentes Pingues", it makes

those who eat them fat.

 

So much on Indian nut and ancient visions of female beauty.

 

Thomas II

 

 

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 11:06:33 -0700

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Thai food (was Galangal)

 

Sue Clemenger <mooncat at in-tch.com> wrote:

>Kiri-sama...the soup sounds divine, but three and three-quarters QUARTS

>of coconut milk???? Yikes, but that'd be expensive to buy in the little

>cans at my local market.....

 

Coconut milk isn't expensive.

 

Begin with *unsweetened* shredded coconut or larger grated coconut.

 

Put one or two cups of dried coconut in a deep bowl.

Soak in 1 quart and 1 cup warm water.

Let stand for a while - until coconut is very moist - 15 min, or so.

First, strain through a strainer or sieve into another bowl.

Then put coconut into muslin (American definition) or a couple layers

of cheese cloth, and wring really well and firmly to get the richest

part.

 

Voila! Coconut milk.

 

Anahita

who used to cook LOTS of Southeast Asian food calling for coconut milk

 

 

Date: Fri, 17 Jun 2005 03:12:27 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huete von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Question & Artemisian Iron Chef

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

According to the Oxford Companion to Food, coconuts are mentioned in  

Indian documents BCE.  Marco Polo encountered them in Java and Nicobar in the 13th century.  Vasco da Gama found them growing on an island off of Mozambique in 1497/98. "It seems likely that Arab traders had been responsible, much earlier, for introducing it to East Africa."

 

Huette

 

 

Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 12:20:47 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Indian Nut

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

 

I've got the translation of the 14th century Tuscan cookbook HTML'ed.

I've put in a hyperlinked Index and added section headings for ease

of use... It's just about ready to go on-line. Vittoria Aureli has

done a wonderful job translating, but there are a few things she

couldn't find...

 

One is Indian nut (noci d'India), which is used in only one recipe

(number 96). I wonder if anyone has a good idea what it might be in

this setting. I doubt it's coconut, but what do i know?

 

Civero of hare and other meats [cf. French civet].

[95] Cut apart a whole hare, and, when it has been washed a little,

cook it in water; then take the cooked liver and heart, grind them

well in a mortar, and when said hare is cooked, take spices, pepper

and onions, and fry them in lard with said heart and toasted bread:

and when all these things have boiled together, put it on the table.

Note that you must mince and grind the cooked heart and liver in a

mortar with spices and toasted bread, and dilute it with good wine

and a bit of vinegar. And then it has been cooked and the hare fried

with onion, pour said sauce over the hare, and let it cool to room

temperature, and serve. And you can do the same with pernici, that is

partridges.

 

[96] Another preparation. Take cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, Indian nut

[noci d'India], fowl livers, egg yolks, and little birds, whole or in

pieces, and fry them in lard: then cook them in said broth, and cook

as described above.

--

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

the persona formerly known as Anahita

 

 

Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 12:55:12 -0700

From: Susan Fox <selene at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Indian Nut

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

lilinah at earthlink.net wrote:

> I've got the translation of the 14th century Tuscan cookbook HTML'ed.

> I've put in a hyperlinked Index and added section headings for ease of

> use... It's just about ready to go on-line. Vittoria Aureli has done a

> wonderful job translating, but there are a few things she couldn't

> find...

>

> One is Indian nut (noci d'India), which is used in only one recipe

> (number 96). I wonder if anyone has a good idea what it might be in

> this setting. I doubt it's coconut, but what do i know?

 

It seems to be coconut according to a somewhat later source:

 

http://cocos.arecaceae.com/nautical.html

 

1550 <http://cocos.arecaceae.com/1550.html>;

Sao Tome - The same letter that spoke of coconuts in Santiago (Ramusio)

mentioned sugar production in Sao Tome. It also stated that coconuts had

been brought there from the coast of Africa: ". . . Vi anno condotto

dalla costa dell'Etiopia l'albero della palma, che fa il frutto che essi

chiamano cocco e qui in Italia chiamano noci d'India . . ." At that time

Ethiopia was any part of Africa beyond Arab influence. If the arguments

against the direct introduction from East Africa are valid (Harries)

then the coconuts brought to Sao Tome could only have come from the

coast at Cape Verde. This is consistent with an ordinance passed by King

Manuel that allowed traders going to Sao Tome to take on provisions at

Beziguiche (Blake). The Portuguese base there was the island of Palma

(the significance of this name in the present context must not be taken

too literally since a number of towns, islands and promontories have so

been named). The island was purchased by the Dutch in 1617, captured by

the French in 1677 and occupied occasionally by the British. Now known

as Goree island it has become part of the important entrep™t of Dakar.

This sequence of events has afforded an opportunity for coconuts to be

taken to Dutch, French and British possessions in Africa and America

from a source that was not directly controlled by the Portuguese.

 

Feeling like a nut, Selene

 

 

Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 08:58:32 -0400

From: "Daniel  Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Indian Nut

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Was written:

> The problem with a coconut from Cape Verde is the cookbook (which is

> probably the Anonimo Toscano) is late 14th or very early 15th Century. The

> Portugese only located the Cape in 1456.

>

> It is possible that coconuts were shipped as part of the spice trade into

> Egypt then into Italy which would make the nuts expensive and rare.  I have

> to admit, I haven't encountered the idea in any of my readings.

>

> One also needs to remember that coconuts are primarily found in the Pacific

> and Indian Oceans and that those in West Africa were brought there probably

> by trade, which may have occurred after the Portuguese started regular trade

> with India.

>

> The history of the coconut looks like it might be fertile ground for a

> little research.

 

Check the Flori as I think that there is some information there in regards

our previous discussion a while back.  Be that as it may check the popular

reference book "The Book of Edible Nuts" by Frederic Rosengarten, Jr. as

pages 65 through 93 are specifically devoted to it and the first 5 pages to

its history.  Scattered notes on its history appear elsewhere in the entry

as well.    Apparently not know in the classical European world, i.e. Greek

and Roman, it does appear to be at the very least late period European, i.e.

very late 15th and 16th century via the Portuguese and Spanish and into the

17th century and out of period with the Dutch.  He opinions that the

Portuguese introduced it into the Atlantic Ocean basin after 1500 and the

Spanish to the Caribbean in the early 16th century.  First reference to it

being called the Indian nut is by Cosmos Indicopleustes an Egyptian monk

(545 A.D.) who visited Ceylon and western India.  He called it the "great nut

of India".  Marco Polo (1280) described it growing in Sumatra as well as

Madras and Malabar in India as nux indica, i.e. India Nut. Alternatively it

is called tenga by the Italian explorer Lodoico di Varthema (1510) in his

Itinerario.  Coco in the word coconut apparently comes from 16th century

Spanish and Portuguese belief that the three markings on the shell of the

inner nut resemble the face of a monkey.  Of the modern languages only

arabic with Jauz Al-Hind seems to retain the Indian association.

 

I recall seeing references in books to period objects created from  

the inner shell, most notably period goblets.

 

Alternatively in his entry on Betel nuts the only period European reference

is Marco Polo who does mention it repeatedly.  He does state that it reached

eastern Africa before 1500.

 

Daniel

 

 

Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 09:06:31 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Book of Edible Nuts was Indian Nut

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Dover released an inexpensive paperback of

 

The Book of Edible Nuts in 2004.

 

Used prices start under $10 also for the book, in

case anyone wants to pick up a copy.

 

Johnnae

 

Daniel Phelps wrote:

> Check the Flori as I think that there is some information there in regards

> our previous discussion a while back.  Be that as it may check the popular

> reference book "The Book of Edible Nuts" by Frederic Rosengarten,  

> Jr. snipped

>

> Daniel

 

 

Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 11:03:44 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Indian Nut

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

As a small aside, the Spanish appear to have introduced coconuts into the

Caribbean from the Pacific side of Central America, which would place the

event somewhere around 1513 (Balboa's Pacific Coast excursion).

 

Bear

 

<clipped>

> 17th century and out of period with the Dutch.  He opinions that the

> Portuguese introduced it into the Atlantic Ocean basin after 1500 and the

> Spanish to the Caribbean in the early 16th century.

<clipped>

>

> Daniel

 

 

Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 14:02:27 -0400

From: "Daniel  Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Book of Edible Nuts was Indian Nut

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

> Dover released an inexpensive paperback of

> The Book of Edible Nuts in 2004.

>

> Used prices start under $10 also for the book, in

> case anyone wants to pick up a copy.

 

I can recommend it as an excellent work regards the subject.  I picked up my

copy in West Palm Beach second hand.  Mine is hardback with a dust jacket

and signed.  He also wrote a book on spice titled "The Book of Spices" but I

do not have a copy.

 

Daniel

 

 

Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 13:52:35 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Indian Nut

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

This is the only site I've found that can seriously tie the coconut  

into the Mediterranean spice trade:

 

http://www.le.ac.uk/archaeology/research/projects/nerc/

 

http://www.le.ac.uk/ar/mvdv1/research.html

 

The research is for Quseir, an Egyptian resort town that was a major

terminus of the spice trade between the 1st and 3rd Centuries and again

between the 12th and 15th Centuries.

 

According to the research:

 

" Several imports have already been identified: pepper, rice, and coconut,

all originating from India, were found in both Roman and Mamluk deposits

(for interim reports see Van der Veen (1999e, 2000, 2001c)"

 

There is no evidence of further transport (as far as I can tell), but the

evidence does show that coconuts were imported into Egypt during the

specified period.  This suggests the possibility that coconuts may have been

exported to Europe, in particular, Italy, during the time of the Anonimo

Toscano.

 

Further research on the area is continuing.

 

Bear

 

 

Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 18:21:39 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Aramco articles

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Looking into the coconut, I came across an archive of articles

from Aramco World

 

<>New World Foods, Old World Diet Written by Paul Lunde

http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/199203/

new.world.foods.old.world.diet.htm

 

article on rosewater

http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/199706/the.roses.of.taif.htm

 

article on ice cream cones

Zalabia and the First Ice-Cream Cone Written by Jack Marlowe

  http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200304/

zalabia.and.the.first.ice-cream.cone.htm

 

There are a number of others. (It works better with MS Explorer.)

 

Johnnae

 

<the end>



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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org