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The sweeping shots of Hawaii’s scenic beaches and mountains are a staple of the new Hawaii Five-0 television program. But often it is a small detail that makes the setting seem authentic — like what to drink with a plate lunch.Bottom’s up! Coconut water’s popular all over Hawaii.
In one episode, Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) meets his then-fiancée for a lunch date at a picnic table outside a food truck in a park near the beach. So far, so good. Food trucks are a popular and fairly inexpensive choice for a quick lunch in many locations on Oahu, especially Honolulu. He orders two plate lunches (a Hawaii staple that includes an entree, tossed or mac salad and two scoops of rice) and two coconut waters.
Coconut water is not exclusive to Hawaii, but it is popular here. The small drink boxes shown on the TV show are the same ones sold at a shop near Kailua Beach. The drink is clear and almost flavorless. Do not expect it to taste like coconut. It is tastier than plain water but not carbonated like soda, or sweet like many sports drinks. The inpidual serving lists 60 calories but includes these claims: “All natural, more electrolytes than leading sports drinks. More potassium than two bananas. No fat, no cholesterol, low in calories.”
Some combination of those ingredients also makes it a popular hang-over remedy. The morning after big holiday celebrations, I often see a coconut water display near the front entry of grocery stores. It is sold in larger cans and bottles, as well as the inpidual servings. Several brands are sold locally and many feature coconut water mixed with other fruit flavors, such as pineapple. Coconut water is included as a flavor in local soda and juice products. While coconuts seem to fall everywhere in Hawaii, the brands of coconut water I’ve seen come from Thailand or the Philippines. I’d love to find a local brand, as I am trying to eat local as much as possible. Most brands of coconut water are from abroad.
I have to admit, it took me two years and two tries to enjoy coconut water, though. At first, I avoided it because I just wasn’t sure what to expect – I’m not THAT fond of dry coconut but have learned that fresh coconut here is a completely different experience. The first time I tried a can of coconut water, I got one that was too large to consume easily, and it contained a sort of “pulp” that I found unappealing. Fortunately, I tried again with exactly the brand shown on Hawaii Five-0. It was cold and the perfect drink for a walk on the beach.
You may be able to find coconut water in a grocery store near you. If so, grab a can and kick back with an authentic taste of the islands while you watch a certain Monday night television show.