Sunday, March 1, 2009

If You Like Piña Coladas....

There are several ways to make a really good piña colada. Obviously, you can run to the store and buy yourself a can of coconut milk and have fairly instant gratification.

Or, you can take 2 months´ vacation and head to Colombia.

Head east along the coast until you hit the tiny beach town of Taganga. Try to avoid a hostel that is adjacent to a discotec, or where the roof flaps in the wind and sends up an infernal racket every 10 minutes. In the morning, take a 15 foot fiberglass fishing dinghy across less than glassy seas to the pristine sands of Parque Tayrona, one of Colombia`s most beautiful national parks. Pack lots of water and food, cuz they`ll charge you an arm and a leg (aka American prices) if you try to buy everything beachside. Be sure to waterproof everything you take on the boat, and strap that lifejacket on tightly. You`ll want to reassuring presure of the straps when the boat flies up one side of the swells and crashes down the other.

At Parque Tayrona, reserve one of the overpriced hammocks and lather up the sunscreen. Try not to sit directly under the coconut trees; just a suggestion. If you wait a while, you are bound to hear the telltale thud of a coconut surrendering itself to gravity and falling to earth. Find a rock (or a machete, if you want to get all fancy). Start hammering away at the outer hull, which feels a bit like soft, fibrous wood. Get comfortable, as this could take a while. It will eventually give under your ministrations, and you should be able to tear the outer husk off in strips and chunks. Increase the fury of your blows against the inner shell until it cracks and the sweet coconut water begins leaking out. Alternatively, after an hour and a half of banging, you could also start looking for friendly old Colombian men who can help you, and who will finish the whole process off in about 3 minutes.

Drink the water, and save the thick skin of cocnut that encircles the interior of the inner shell. Cocnut milk is made from juicing the coconut meat and adding a bit of water. You`ll probably want a blender for this, so you might return to civilization at this point. But first, be sure to take a few days to lounge on the beach, to sample the amazingly delicious chocolate-filled rolls that they make in the tiny bakery a few beaches over, and to explore the interior of the park as well. To be honest, I haven´t got a recipe for amazing piña coladas, as I never got further than greedily slurping down the coconut water and then prying the meat out with my knife. But I´m working on finding a good one for arroz con coco, a real Colombian coastal treat.

Oh and if you wander over to the nudist beach a little farther down the shore, don`t be stingy with the sunscreen.

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