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1.10.09


 
The odd whitish spheres resting in a tray of ice outside a bodega on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn were strange enough to make passers-by do a
       
double take. Strolling down the Williamsburg street, Martin Mancusi, 30, a tourist from Barcelona, Spain, and his friend Alejandro Kaed, 33, stopped to examine the items: young peeled coconuts, waiting to be pierced by a straw and sipped tiki-style by someone young and fashionable, as they have been all summer.
Like banh mi sandwiches and sriracha chili sauce, the young coconut and its juice is the latest formerly humble food to be discovered by New York City's style set, and elevated — if not quite to the level of a status symbol — at least to that of a prized accessory.
 
In the last few months, retailers in hipster hot spots like Williamsburg and the Lower East Side say they have sold unprecedented amounts of the fruit for streetside consumption. "I think it's stylish, it's pretty," said Zarifeh Saleh, who owns Bedford Avenue Fruits and Vegetables with her husband, Ayman Ismail. "You feel like you're on the beach, but you're not on the beach."

Across the street at Bedford Avenue Health Food, the owner, Mahdi Matany, said that since he began carrying them in April, he sells six cases of nine coconuts each every warm weekend. Ismail and Saleh say they sell up to 10 cases. Some say the public ritual is part of the drink's allure.

"I don't ever go and buy a bunch of coconuts and stock them and drink them at home," said Jennifer Verdon, 30, a band manager who lives on the Lower East Side. Lining the inside is the gelatinous flesh, which can be scraped out and eaten while drinking the cloudy liquid. They usually cost $2 to $4 each.

Cracking a coconut and drinking its contents has long been a practice in the city's South Asian and Hispanic communities. But young people walking around the city toting a three-pound coconut that is usually relegated to the beaches of Phuket seems to be a new phenomenon.

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