There’s something seedy about today’s food holiday. August 3 is National Watermelon Day!
It’s also National Grab Some Nuts Day. I’m trying very hard to resist making the obvious joke here. I’d actually prefer that we celebrated this holiday because, believe it or not, I despise watermelon. I realize I’m in the minority here, but for some reason, I have just never liked watermelon. Every year when summer rolls around I try it again, thinking “this time I’m going to like it!” – but I never do. I’m not sure if it’s a texture thing or a taste thing, but I just find the fruit very unappealing. Last year I tried it with salt, per Tara’s suggestion, but all that did was make it taste disgusting AND salty. Oh, well. Tara has been a trooper with many of the foods this year, so I have no problem eating a few bites of watermelon considering she choked down raw fish eggs not too long ago.
The botanical name for watermelon is citrullus vulgaris, and I can’t help but chuckle over that. Vulgar, indeed! (That actually refers to “common or ordinary fruit,” but whatever). Watermelons are native to Africa, and were a valuable source of water in the desert, considering that their flesh is comprised of 90% water. It’s related to cucumbers, gourds, pumpkin, and squash – all of which I do like. (I also like watermelon-flavored candy. Go figure). The fruit was first cultivated around 2000 B.C., and watermelon seeds have been found in King Tut’s tomb and other ancient Egyptian sites. Traders passing through the Kalahari desert began selling the seeds, and cultivation spread throughout Africa, eventually spreading to Asia. Today, China is the world’s top producer of watermelon. African slaves helped introduce watermelon to America in the 17th century, and that eventually led to a bunch of unfair racist associations and stereotypes about African Americans and their fondness for watermelon. Ain’t nobody got time for that on this here blog. Whenever I think of watermelon, Dirty Dancing comes to mind. But that’s just me.
We had purchased a watermelon from the supermarket earlier, but we met up with a friend for drinks and dinner at one of our favorite bars in Portland (shout out to Interurban). They just happened to have a special “watermelon salad” on the menu: wedges of watermelon rubbed with serrano pepper and topped with homemade ricotta cheese, cilantro, and extra virgin olive oil. I was skeptical, as usual, but I have to admit: this was the first time in my life I ever tried watermelon and didn’t hate it. It was actually quite delicious, which amazed me. Except for those bites where I mostly just got watermelon. I guess the trick is, from now on, I’ll have to add a serrano rub, homemade ricotta, cilantro, and extra virgin olive oil whenever I eat watermelon. Yum!