Martin Espada
(b. Brooklyn, NY, 1957
to Puerto Rican parents)

Coca-Cola and Coco Frio

(1993)


Coco Frio
("chilled coconut")

 

Background: A "Coco Frio" drink has variations, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, but essential ingredients and tools are a chilled coconut, a machete to chop off its top, and a straw for drinking the coconut water or milk. Rum, other spirits, or other juices may be added.

Discussion questions: 1. How does the "fat boy" appear as a New World Immigrant in terms of being divided between American and his home country? What are the attractions of either?

2. What images or symbols of the modern American culture and the traditional island culture appear? What differences are indicated between modern and traditional cultures?

3. How are the two cultures mixed, and what mixes them?

Coca-Cola and Coco Frio

On his first visit to Puerto Rico,
island of family folklore,
the fat boy wandered
from table to table
with his mouth open.                                      5
At every table, some great-aunt
would steer him with cool spotted hands
to a glass of Coca-Cola.
One even sang to him, in all the English
she could remember, a Coca-Cola jingle               10
from the forties. He drank obediently, though
he was bored with this potion, familiar
from candy stores in Brooklyn.

Then, at a roadside stand off the beach, the fat boy
opened his mouth to coco frio, a coconut                    15
chilled, then scalped by a machete
so that the straw could inhale the clear milk.
The boy tilted the green shell overhead
and drooled coconut milk down his chin;
suddenly, Puerto Rico was not Coca-Cola                  20
or Brooklyn, and neither was he.

For years afterward, the boy marveled at an island
where the people drank Coca-Cola
and sang jingles from World War II
in a language they did not speak,                               25
while so many coconuts in the trees
sagged heavy with milk, swollen
and unsuckled.

class discussion of Espada, "Coca Cola and Coco Frio" (outside university unknown)

How to prepare your own Coco Frio