Besides making a mean cream pie, coconut can provide food, water, wood, fabric and shelter. Yet, most of us have barely explored its potential beyond desserts.\r\n\r\nCreamy coconut milk, extracted from its oil-rich meat, is used extensively in Southeast Asian, Caribbean and some South American cuisines. It\u2019s a great tool to enrich vegetable soups, steam shellfish or braise greens. Widely available, unsweetened shredded coconut can be an interesting addition to salads, granola, streusel toppings and chutneys. It can also liven up coatings for baked chicken or shrimp, and makes a fine garnish for yogurt or oatmeal.\r\n\r\nFun Facts\r\nPer capita, Sri Lankan residents consume more coconut per year than people in any other country, about 115 pounds per person.\r\nScaling coconut palm trees can be dangerous, so monkeys are often trained to climb and knock down coconuts.\r\nCoconuts aren\u2019t nuts. They\u2019re drupes, or stone fruits. The part that we eat is the endosperm of the seed.\r\nCoconut palm trees can grow to almost 100 feet in height.\r\n\r\nPair It\r\nCoconut-based entr\u00e9es tend to be spicy and creamy. A wine pairing should focus on which of those elements dominate.\r\n\r\n\u201cWith spicy coconut curries, I like to pair a lightly sweet Riesling,\u201d says Jon Cross, sommelier/wine director at Hinoki & the Bird in Los Angeles. \u201cThe sweetness cuts through the spiciness of the dish, but it also has good acidity.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFor less spicy dishes like coconut-milk mussels, Cross goes for rich Chardonnays that offer similar creamy texture.\r\n\r\nAs for desserts, most sweet wines with good acidity, like Sauternes and Tokaji, pair well. But Cross suggests Donnafugata\u2019s Ben Ry\u00e8 Passito di Pantelleria, which is 100% Zibibbo.