Modern Culture17 Dec 2010 02:28 pm
The Irish have their potatoes, the Koreans have their Kimchi and the Sri Lankans have their… coconuts. Sri Lankan authorities have been forced to step in to control the sharp increase in the price of coconuts — a dietary staple — by setting a ceiling price and arranging imports to ease supply and demand. So important is the coconut to the national cuisine that shortages in the past have had serious political implications and even been held responsible for the downfall of several governments.
The coconut (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing up to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4–6 m long, and pinnae 60–90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly, leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut.
The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropics for decoration, as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm can be utilized by humans in some manner. Culinary uses of the various parts of the coconut include:
• The nut provides oil for cooking and making margarine.
• The white, fleshy part of the seed, the coconut meat, is edible and used fresh or dried in cooking.
• The fleshy part can be desiccated to produce coconut milk in making curry dish and other dishes using coconut milk.
In order to prevent a national crisis, the Sri Lankan government set a ceiling retail price of 30 rupees (27 US cents) per nut in a network of state-owned stores, but stocks quickly sold out and then reappeared at more than double the price on the black market. The government has now decided to import coconuts from India and Malaysia to end the shortages. This is big news in Sri Lanka, where coconuts have traditionally been a key export, after tea and rubber, but the conversion of plantations for housing development and increased consumption has led to severe shortages in recent times.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.