Studded along most coastal villages, coconut trees depict a tropical paradise. Also known as the tree of life, the coconut tree requires well-drained soil and thus, flourish well in the tropical climate. The coconut is truly a wonder fruit, with every part, from husk to trunk to leaves, serving a purpose.
Coconut is highly popular among locals as well as visitors and it is found in nearly every corner of the island. Used and eaten in every possible way, it’s so deeply entrenched in the Mauritian lifestyle that it has given birth to the creole affectionate term gato coco, or simply coco (meaning darling) often used by couples.
No visit to the market is complete without a refreshing glass of delo coco and likewise a compulsory component of a Mauritian tea party is the delicious macatias coco- mini buns stuffed with grated coconut.
Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of the Coconut
Coconut is a very versatile and indispensable food item for people under the tropics. Harvested naturally around the island, it is a complete food, rich in calories, vitamins, and minerals.
To beat the tropical summer thirst, a chilled glass of coconut water is a great alternative to sugar-packed cocktails and soft drinks. Coconut water is a low-calorie drink and 99% free of fat. It is packed with electrolytes, enzymes and minerals that help boost energy levels. Plus, regular consumption of this natural refreshment can help you lose extra weight as it speeds up the body’s metabolism.
A medium-sized coconut carries about 400g of edible meat while just about 30-150 ml of coconut water may provide almost all the daily-required essential minerals, vitamins, and energy of an average-sized individual. Coconut oil, made from a brew of coconut meat and water, is easy to digest and also produces a longer sustained energy level. It also has a higher calorie count than coconut water but provides the same nutritional benefits.
Other Uses of the Coconut in Mauritius
Various objects such as hats and bags can also be braided from the palm leaf or it is simply used for festive decoration, especially during Hindu weddings. Its stem is cut and made to dry, to make brooms or what we called 'Balier Coco', often used in our backyards.
Coconut husk, or Paille Coco, is used to make mats, ropes, natural fertilizers for plants and in the past, it was also used in making mattresses, called “Katyas Kreol’'. A special coconut based alcoholic drink is the tropical variation on the classic daiquiri with coconut cream mixed with rum and lime juice.