Although Frida Kahlo is best known for her striking and emotionally revealing self portraits, she created about 40 still life paintings that provide just as much insight into her preoccupation with death and her overwhelming loneliness. I was recently given an anthology detailing Kahlo’s entire body of still life paintings and have become so enamored with her work that I will be completing a five part series of my favorite artworks. This is not the first time Kahlo’s art has appeared on this site and I hope by the end of this series you will adore her work like I do.

Frida Kahlo, Lágrimas de coco (Coconut Tears), 1951
Oil on masonite, 22.8 x 29.8 cm, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Coconuts are a familiar foodstuff in many of Frida Kahlo’s still life paintings. The nut is differentiated in many of the works from the other fruits and vegetables because it has anthropomorphic eyes. In the painting Coconut Tears, the coconut weep and make eye contact with the viewer. The Spanish title Lágrimas de coco is a pun on the phrase lágrimas de cocodrilo, crocodile tears – meaning insincere tears because as the story goes, crocodiles cry to lure their prey closer or they shed tears as they consume them (1). This painting was completed as a companion painting to Coconuts (a work of a similar size and nature depicting a weeping coconut peeking out at the viewer from behind a large slice of watermelon) and was commissioned by physician friend of Kahlo’s who returned the work after picking up on the joke.

{Coconut Milk Ice Cream with Caramelized Papaya & Lime}

This creamy dessert is spiked with sour limes and fresh ginger. When paired with the hot fruit, the richness of the coconut is brought to the forefront of the palette. The ice cream will keep for up to 4 weeks in the freezer. Wonderful when served after spicy food, like the chipotle chicken enchiladas. This dish was adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit, July 2002 magazine.

Yield: 4 servings

ice cream ingredients:
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 1/2 limes
1 tablespoon natural ginger uncrystallized, finely minced
pinch of salt

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Papaya, sliced into wedges
1/2 lime, thinly sliced

Combine all of the ice cream ingredients into a freezer safe container. Stir well, ensuring the salt and sugars have dissolved. Place in freezer and stir every 30 minutes to break up ice crystals to ensure the ice cream is smooth.

Once the ice cream has set, after about 3 to 4 hours, melt the butter in a skillet and add the brown sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Place the sliced fruit in the hot skillet and flip after 30 seconds or once golden. Serve together with the ice cream immediately.

This is the first post in a five part series examining the still life paintings of Frida Kahlo.