We were amazed by how coconuts are used for just about every dish of food in Samoa. Coconut trees sprout everywhere, without being in the soil. Trees are growing everywhere and they are loaded with about 50 coconuts per tree, which is quite dangerous, but only if you happen to be standing under a tall tree at the wrong time. Our 4 year old grandson had a coconut fall less than a foot from his head when he was playing at a park. A coconut in its husk is bigger than a child's head and quite heavy!
Coconuts are so plentiful that every day you find them on streets, floating in the ocean, on the beaches, and sprouting along all the hiking trails. They sprout and start growing into a tree without even being buried. They will sprout and then a root will travel down to the ground and start a new tree.
When hiking we had run out of water, so we found a thick stick, stuck it in the sand and used it to pry off the husk of a coconut. Then we took a rock and broke it open, which is easy to do if you know where to hit it. Then we drank the coconut water inside, which tastes an awful lot like Sprite. Seriously.
The Samoans don't usually eat the coconut meat--they feed that to the animals--but they use coconut cream in just about everything. They can quickly husk a coconut, and then use a scraper attached to a wooden horse (see picture) to scrape the white meat into a bowl. Then they set the meat into the coconut husk, and squeeze all of the coconut milk out of the flaked meat into the bowl.
The coconut milk is used to make koko rice for breakfast, and it is used as a fat substitute in many recipes. When they add a little salt and onion to it, it makes a wonderfully rich sauce on top of native vegetables, starches, and meats. Coconut milk is used in just about every traditional dessert, bakery item, main dish, and side dish in Samoa.
If you are wondering what the third picture above is, it is a niu, or a young coconut. The middle part tastes a lot like cotton candy, believe it or not, and kids love it.