Oh the things one can learn about watermelon! For example, watermelon has its own marketing board – the National Watermelon Promotion Board – which is a wealth of information on this wondrous fruit. There is also a food blog devoted entirely to watermelon – whataboutwatermelon.com. Apparently July was national watermelon month so the blog is full of pictures of a watermelon-carving contest, a watermelon seed spitting contest, directions on how to cut a watermelon and also a note on the traditional Japanese game of Suikawari (watermelon cracking). Think piñata but substitute watermelon.
In addition to being a source of endless fun, watermelon has nutritional value too – it’s the Lycopene leader of fresh produce, contains Vitamins A, B6 and C and potassium. The first recorded harvest of watermelons occurred in Egypt over 5000 years ago. Watermelons were placed in the burial tombs of Egyptian kings to nourish them in the afterlife. I bet King Tut is a champion seed spitter by now. Today over 1200 varieties of watermelon are grown in 96 countries. China is now the number one producer of watermelons.
And finally, it is fun, it is entertaining, it is nutritious and – the sign that this fruit has true versatility – it has a queen! Jessica Southard is the 2010 United States National Watermelon Queen. To win this title Jessica competed against eight other regional watermelon queens at the National Watermelon Association’s annual conference in Dallas, Texas. Jessica will now be traveling throughout the US and internationally to promote watermelons. Yes, you read that correctly.
Now, closer to home (and my own observations), watermelon is not a bachelor’s fruit. It is about commitment. You’re not going to find George Clooney putting one of these suckers in his shopping cart (especially now that his girlfriend may be a former prostitute!). Watermelons weigh between 20 and 45 pounds with the seedless ones slightly more svelte at 10 – 20 pounds. You need a lot of people or a lot of time to get through one of these great green cousins of the gourds. I noticed at the grocery store, however, that they are now being sold in halves or quarters to make them more manageable. Cheaters. I admit: we took advantage of the slices and bought two quarters. And then, when I returned to another grocery store to buy limes, I noticed the small personal size watermelons so I picked one of those up as well. How perfect! Your own wee watermelon just for you, to help you take the leap– like a Penelope Cruz to Javier Bardem.
I have enjoyed the watermelon in three ways: as a punch mixed with red wine (meh), as a simple appetizer with feta cheese (yum!) and as a tea that I found this afternoon in David’s Tea on Fourth Ave in Kitsilano (hello – summer party in my mouth!). I was most excited about the punch – I prepared both the large and the small watermelons and compared the colour and taste as I pureed them, strained them and then mixed in some lime juice, vanilla extract and red wine. I’m not going to share the recipe because it was just … odd. Not super let’s say. I don’t think red wine goes with watermelon.
The watermelon slices with feta on top though, were great. A nice salty sweet combination; very simple and yet refreshing and satisfying at the same time. Tastes great! Less filling! Tastes great! I digress.
And finally, the piece de resistance which I happened upon about an hour ago – watermelon tea. I’m drinking it now and it’s lovely. David’s Tea says this about it “mingling honeydew, strawberry leaves and apple with generous chunks of watermelon, this fruit-packed tea is overflowing with juicy melon flavour. Try it on ice and get ready to dangle your bare feet off the balcony.” If I had a balcony, my feet would be dangling.