Coco Crema

About a week into our stay in Puerto Escondido, we discovered a lady selling “Coco Crema” or Coconut Cream. 

Ninfa has been selling her homemade Coconut Cream here for years. Traditionally people drink it out of a plastic baggie that is tied at the top for transport home. We dedicated 2 of our  hydroflask  waterbottles to house the cream and avoid the plastic all together.

Ninfa has been selling her homemade Coconut Cream here for years. Traditionally people drink it out of a plastic baggie that is tied at the top for transport home. We dedicated 2 of our hydroflask waterbottles to house the cream and avoid the plastic all together.

There are plenty of places around the area that sell “Coco Frio” or cold whole coconuts that are served pierced open at the top so that you can drink the fresh coconut water. 

Don’t try this at home! Ninfa has decades of practice with her huge Machete. She is a master in the art of coconut slicing.

Don’t try this at home! Ninfa has decades of practice with her huge Machete. She is a master in the art of coconut slicing.

On this day, Coco Crema was not available so Anderson and I enjoyed the fresh coconut water straight from the natural container. The plastic straw went against our no single use plastic motto but it was there before we had a chance to refuse. We re-purposed it as part of the play building materials for Anderson’s construction site.

On this day, Coco Crema was not available so Anderson and I enjoyed the fresh coconut water straight from the natural container. The plastic straw went against our no single use plastic motto but it was there before we had a chance to refuse. We re-purposed it as part of the play building materials for Anderson’s construction site.

Once the liquid is gone, if you want, they will chop it open with a huge machete to reveal the soft white flesh that you can eat with a spoon and add salt, lime and/or hot sauce to it if you like.

Ninfa’s eldest son Charlie has learned to use the machete while youngest son Marcos watches.

Ninfa’s eldest son Charlie has learned to use the machete while youngest son Marcos watches.

Hot sauce, lime and salt are optional but add an interesting element to the soft coconut meat usually eaten with a spoon.

Hot sauce, lime and salt are optional but add an interesting element to the soft coconut meat usually eaten with a spoon.

But she had something different.  She would mix the fresh coconut water with mashed and blended mature coconut meat to yield this beautifully creamy and delicious drink that most resembled the full fat canned coconut milk in the US.   The difference is hers had been made that day or at most 2 days prior and kept cold, meant to be used immediately.  No sugar or preservatives were added and because of the labor involved, she did not always have a supply.  This discovery came at the perfect time as coconut milk, canned or boxed, had been hit or miss at large grocery store which was a taxi ride away.  And if you could find it, it was often full of sugar and other unwanted ingredients.

So the routine was, when Anja was napping sometime between 1-3 ish, Anderson and I would leave CasaMar, the beautiful little complex we called home for 6 weeks, and walk about 7 minutes to see Ninfa, the patron saint of the Coco Crema. 

She was situated on the main paved road that lead from the highway to or The Point of Puerto Escondido.  If you were not paying attention, you could miss her small doorway.  All of her business was done on the shaded sidewalk where she had one small plastic table, an old stump used to crack open the coconuts and of course the days coconut remnants that her chickens love to pick through for any morsels of missed fatty coconut meat. 

This man was buying a bunch of coconuts to take home with him. In the foreground are the day’s coconut scraps.

This man was buying a bunch of coconuts to take home with him. In the foreground are the day’s coconut scraps.

One of Ninfa’s happy chickens picking at the coconut remnants left behind. That is extreme free range. Nothing wasted. The coconuts are composted on the side of her house and as they dry can be used as kindling for cooking over open fire.

One of Ninfa’s happy chickens picking at the coconut remnants left behind. That is extreme free range. Nothing wasted. The coconuts are composted on the side of her house and as they dry can be used as kindling for cooking over open fire.

Over the course of the 6 weeks that we were in Puerto Escondido, I counted up roughly 20 trips made in the blazing mid day heat of which we only scored this fresh, cold, tasty white cream on 12 of those voyages.  If she had a fresh batch, we would get 60oz at a time as this is what our 2 insulated HydroFlask containers held. 

Flasks are filled and we are off!

Flasks are filled and we are off!

Anderson enjoyed our mid afternoon mission to top off our supply of fresh coconut cream.

Anderson enjoyed our mid afternoon mission to top off our supply of fresh coconut cream.

The price was 60 pesos which depending on the conversion was anywhere between $3.10 - $3.26.  This was a pretty smoking deal considering the labor involved and the freshness.  And I truly believe she had a healthy mark up, making this a win-win situation.  Just as a reference, cans of organic full fat coconut milk from Trader Joe’s (cheapest place I know) in California are $1.69 for 13.5 oz. which works out to $7.50 - $8.20 for the same amount of product depending on tax. 

We would keep the white gold in the fridge in a pitcher that seemed to run out way too fast.  I would add the cream to black morning coffee, occasional mid day iced coffee with cinnamon and mid day smoothies made with frozen pineapple, frozen bananas, coco crema and cinnamon.  A few times we made arroz con coco (rice made with the coconut milk instead of water).

We exchanged conversation in my broken Spanish and her broken English.  She never knew when I was coming back and I never knew when she would have a fresh batch despite the fact that we always spoke of seeing each other tomorrow or the next day or the next.  Not to mention the few times we had nice conversations with other customers who had stopped to enjoy a refreshing coconut. 

Coco Crema was a nice nutritious staple, a nice routine with my son, and nice to see our new friends Ninfa (Coco Crema lady) and her sons Charlie and Marcos.   I will miss this healthy routine filled with fresh local fare, but the next stop will undoubtedly lead to different routines and adventures.