The Quest of the Kelapa Muda

Sara Shah

(Europe, UK, US)


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The perfect cure comes in green. Have a hangover? Recovering from food poisoning? Feeling disembodied?  Hungry? Not hungry? Dehydrated? Tired? Sad?

Order a kelapa muda—a fresh young coconut, and you will never be left disappointed. Once ordered, a round hexagonal, or square shape will be roughly cut, and a wooden bamboo straw slipped inside. 

The Balinese swear by the kelapa muda for any health ailment, from the organs to the edges of the aura. The first sip is always the best, the fresh murky nectar satisfies every part of the mouth, nourishing the body. Little slivers of white slime may pass through the straw, adding a silky texture to the island delight.

Not sure what to order at the warung—just don’t forget;

Satu kelapa muda, silikan?” One fresh young coconut please.

When you’ve sipped all the way down to the bottom of a never ending well of the everlasting, and seemingly abundant juice of the gods, do not discard the smooth neon green leathery shell yet. Between the green and the liquid is a border of flesh. Stick in your spoon, and scrape the insides smooth and clean, until metal touches hollow wood. 

Layers of white carpaccio will fall off to the sides, and you will taste heaven–and it will be fleeting and instant and gone. For if the gods gave it all to us now, there would be no fruits to look forward to in the great life beyond.

Savor the moment, order another tomorrow, and one more the next day. They will never taste as good anywhere else. So thank the man who climbs the tree up and beyond. Barefoot and rising with the support of a single hand, because there is a knife in the other. Admire his dexterity, and express gratitude for his efforts. He makes it look easy, the quest of the kelapa muda.

Sara Shah

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

Sara Shah is a travel memoirist and poet. She writes of her adventures around the world as a woman travelling on her own. Her journeys and writings take place on both internal and external planes.

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