Rare Plants, Seaside Characters

It looks like a cold day with a bit of snow, doesn't it? Actually it's the sand dunes in Pensacola. Miles and miles of pure white beaches and on a rainy day, looking for all the world like new snow. I had to wonder, just what grows there? Unfortunately so much of the seashore is condominiums that finding public beaches is a bit of a challenge.
Key West, 85 degrees.
Austin and I drove to Key West. He'd not been that far south before and I hadn't visited in many years. We had several friends who used to winter in Key West and work there, returning to the Ozarks for the summer tourist season. It didn't take many steps to meet a few local characters.
Coconut Larry, a true Key West beach bum.
Meet Coconut Larry. Everyone knows him and you can't walk far on the beach without finding him. He sets up shop under the coconut trees with an ice chest full of ripe coconuts. For donations, he'll show you the art of drinking coconut juice.
Larry saws the stem end off the coconut.

After the coconut top is sawed off, Larry cuts a hole in the top, to reach the coconut juice inside.
And there is your finished coconut, already chilled with an instant holder - the sand.
Beach life isn't too shabby. Coconut Larry has made another visitor from the great cold north, happy.
Northward bound, Austin and I stopped at one of my favorite places to shop for unusual plants, the Mustang Flea Market in Tampa. Lots of plants and produce you won't find in your local grocery store.
You can see most of the market in about 3 hours if you hurry, it's huge.
Ginger, lotus flowers, gourds, yams, tiny oranges, garlic, starfruit.
The disappointing thing is that I can't get home with the fresh produce. Sometime I want to rent a place for a couple of weeks just so I can cook up some of what I find at the Mustang Market.
Banana flowers, lotus stems, gourd and more.
What I did find to bring home are some additions to my tropical plant collection. I found Thai pandanus (Pandanus amaryllifolius). There are several varieties of pandanus, but only one used for cooking as far as I know and it's a hard plant to find. I learned to appreciate the flavor when I was in cooking classes in Thailand. I also bought a jaboticaba, one of my favorite fruits. It's 3 ft. tall and 2 years old, it should start bearing fruit at 3 or 4 years, hopefully. (To see what it looks like, view this video): http://youtu.be/lCpG5ZkLp5Y  I also brought some other cooking herbs, equally difficult to find which I'll be describing later as I start cooking up dishes with them. Now, heading north and sadly leaving behind the 70s and 80s weather we've been soaking up. I dropped Austin off in Gainsville where he's headed back to catching oysters and fishing for a few days before heading northward himself. Thank you for checking on our progress!

1 comment:

Mark and Gaz said...

Your post is a nice selection of warming photos. Its in the middle of a cold snap here in the UK, minus 2 at the moment (6,45pm), so seeing warm beaches is a great way to spend some time.

Coconut larry looks like fun!