If it’s summer, it’s watermelon
Well apples are sweet and peaches are good
Rabbits so very very fine
But give me, oh give me
Oh, how I wish you would
Some of that watermelon smiling on the vine
– Watermelon Song, Dave Matthews Band
I know watermelons. I’ve researched them and eaten about a thousand. When summer is scorching hot and little else tastes good I’m cracking one open – what a sweet sound – and taking in all that ruby, perfumed, black-speckled flesh. It’s an orgy for the senses that never gets old.
And that’s even before the tasting.
When I was a boy I would, if I had a big enough piece, enjoy carving caverns in the sugary “meat” with my fingers or tongue and, when my mom wasn’t looking, lifting it to my lips to sip the pools of pink nectar, producing as evidence a streaked T-shirt and juice running down my neck.
Back then, of course, I didn’t know about health stuff. The damned thing was merely scrumptious, and lots of fun to play with.
As it turns out, watermelons are wonderfully healthful. Sure, they are 92 percent water, but they have lots of vitamins A, C, B6 and potassium, contributing to eye health, boosting immunity and, among other things, maintaining nerve function. And did you know they are first for lycopene ? That’s the stuff found in tomatoes that us guys are supposed to eat to keep our prostate healthy
Watermelons go way back, 5,000 years, in fact, first popping up in Egypt. Early explorers here used them as canteens. And it’s no shock to me that watermelons are the most-consumed melons in the United States, with Florida and Texas turning out the domestic brunt.
Watermelons basically need three things to grow: sun and water, and bees for pollination. They’re ready for hand picking in about three months.
By the way, please give me a melon with seeds. Those other ones, which Hillers also carries, are a relatively modern creation. And spitting out the seeds is half the fun, right? I just think the old kind taste better. But if you want to know, seedless melons are actually sterile hybrids made by crossing male and female pollen and flowers. Sort of like mules, produced by crossing a horse and donkey.
Let’s get back to the tasting. Simple is best, but I also enjoy watermelons in a variety of ways, including cubed on spears, with basil and cherry tomatoes. They also make a nice shake: blend up some melon pieces, non-fat lemon yogurt, strawberries, bananas and voila! A yummy, nutritious potation. Something a bit more, ah, adult? How about a special mojito? Mix a little fresh mint, watermelon puree, cherry syrup, pinch of sugar, lime juice and lots of rum. That’s good.
There’s more. Weary of the same old salsa? Do something different: melon, green peppers, lime juice, cilantro, green onion and jalepeno. Your friends will be impressed. Watermelon for breakfast? Why not? Make a Watermelon Benedict, subbing the egg, bread and meat for rounds of granola, melon and kiwi. Pressed for time? nothing like greens tossed with watermelon, onion, olive oil and feta. Way good, I’m telling ya.
But first you gotta pick a good one. Go for firmness and symmetry, avoiding cuts, dents or bruises. The melon should be on the heavy side, and its belly a creamy yellow (from where it sat on the ground and sun ripened). Then make sure to wash it before cutting.
Hiller’s has a variety of luscious watermelons, including the “personal” size and even my favorite the Black Diamonds.
And now, how about a joke: A watermelon farmer grew disturbed by some kids who would sneak into his patch for his melons. After some thought, he came up with an idea that he thought would scare the kids away.
He made up a sign and posted it in the field. The next day, the kids show up and see the sign which read, “Warning! One of the watermelons in this field has been injected with cyanide.”
The kids ran off, made their own sign and posted it next to the farmer’s sign. When the farmer returned, he surveyed the field. No watermelons were missing, but there was a sign next to his. It read: “Now there are two!”
Have a healthful and delicious summer.