19 January 2009


We are People of the Coconut. Poking around a provincial backyard will inevitably yield tools and traces of interacting with palm fruit. One of them is the kabayo, a wooden "horse" (sometimes fashioned out of a single piece of driftwood) with a metal attachment that shreds the mature coconut for milk extraction. It isn't used for fresh green coconuts.

A kabayo in Cavite, with some husks all about.

When I was little, I would watch our helper sit on the kabayo and rhythmically grate niyog against the sharp "head", producing the white shreds that looked not unlike flaky sea salt. She did this until brown specks appeared, signaling that she was beginning to grate the shell portion and making her shift the niyog to attack a different section. (If you still don't get it, here's a YouTube video.)

Nailed firm.

While some city households still prefer to grate their own, most rely on mechanized graters in markets or groceries. This is just fine, as long as we can get to them easily. I have personally developed a newfound appreciation for the kabayo after, in colder climes, I had resorted to the arduous scraping of an imported niyog with a fork, or breaking the hard flesh apart and dumping it in a blender with some water.

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