great variety of dishes, oil is made from them, the outside hulls are used for scouring and for fiber utilized in many ways, the bases of the fronds and the hulls are used for firewood, the trunks are used for skids for drawing their jangadas from the water, and the leaves are used for thatching the houses and for torches at night.
One of the Brazilian methods of using the coco nut in cooking is well worthy the attention of caterers. I refer to the use of the ripe nut in preparing codfish à la crème. To make this dish the codfish is prepared in the usual way, except that the juice of the coco nut is used to flavor it. The ripe nut is grated on a piece of rough tin made like a large nutmeg grater; the milk is then squeezed from the grated nut, the dry fibrous material is rejected and the white rich milk is poured in the cooking fish, furnishing both the oil and a delicious flavor for the dish.
It is somewhat remarkable that 'coprah,' the dried kernel of the coco, is not prepared in Brazil. The reason probably is that there has always been a home market for the nuts.
The young coco trees begin to bear when six or seven years old and yield fruits for more than eighty years. It is said that a coco palm yields more than two hundred nuts a year —a statement which I feel obliged to accept with allowances.
In speaking of the foods furnished by the palm, I am reminded to mention an instance where a portion of the trunk is thus used. One palmetto is known in English as the 'cabbage palm' because the tender phylophore, or growing end of the trunk, is extensively eaten in Brazil as a vegetable, very much as cabbage is eaten. In the forests near the large cities these palmettos have been almost destroyed owing to the demand for them in the vegetable markets. I am of the opinion that many of the palms could be utilized in the same manner, and it may be that they are so used among the native aboriginal races. The using of these stems for food is open to the evident objection that once the growing bud is cut off the tree is destroyed.
The Ubussú.—One of the strangest palms in the world is what is known in the Amazonas valley as the ubussú, the Manicaria saccifera of botanists. This palm is one of a few having an entire leaf.
Every one is familiar with the fact that the leaves or fronds of palms are, in general, either palmate or pinnate. Our common Florida palms, for instance, have the fronds palmate or radiating from the outer end of a petiole; in the pinnate fronds there is a long midrib or petiole running the length of the frond and along two sides of this the leaflets are arranged.
- 'O Coqueiro da India.' Pelo Dr. J. M. da Silva Continho, Rio de Janeiro, 1889, p. 2.