Independence Day and the Watermelon

Independence Day and the Watermelon

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I can remember sitting on my grandparents rusty, green metal slider rocker, eating watermelon. I remember how good they were. How I’d sit there, with my huge leg-sized wedge of summer bounty, enjoying each sweet bite. I remember P’Tooeing! the slick, black seeds across the lawn. I remember the increasing uncomfortableness of being covered in sweet, sticky juice as I trimmed the last bits of red fruit from the rind.

… and then, nothing.

I grew up; ran kitchens and restaurants; and watermelons became that “thing” I bought because they were cheap… and bulky… and filled up the plate for fruit salads…. not because they were good. They just didn’t have that same pull over me. Prior to this past Wednesday, I can’t remember the last time I actually bought watermelon anything to eat. I did buy one once and filled it with rum… for a party. But even that wasn’t good… it was just bitter and boozy.



So, when Jane asked this week if I wanted to pick one up for the Fourth, my insides hitched a bit. It just wasn’t something I wanted to eat. However, being the good son and all, I poked around and found the absolute smallest one I could find. I figured two people don’t need something as big as a cat, and I could just imagine weeks of forcing down cubes of uninteresting melon.

Slicing it up for dessert today it came out of nowhere that we used to sprinkle a little salt on our red wedges of summer, and that for some reason, it seemed to make them taste better. I grabbed the shaker and gave them a light dusting.

You know – All those summer memories came flooding back. It wasn’t that I lost my love for it, It was that I forgot one simple element.. salt.



I don’t know if it’s the sweet / salty play.. Or if the salt heightens the flavor.. or if it replaces some mineral that we lose by eating them. It doesn’t really matter. All I know is that I’ve rekindled my love for that mainstay of summer.

And that got me wondering…

Is salting a watermelon a Southern thing? Moving away from the South and working with much diverse groups in the hotel / restaurant industry – they never salted it.  My family always did though – both sides of it… as far back as I can remember. Is it something we did because of the hot, sweltering summers? Did we bring it with us when we first settled the Appalachians and the lower South? Are we Southerners just knuckle-draggers and use copious amounts of salt for absolutely no reason at all?

So, I’m curious… How do you feel about salt on your melon?

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By the way, the watermelon I did buy was from a company called Melon Up. A mini seedless melon – super sweet. The cool thing about these particular melons is that they come with a  tag where you can go to their website, enter the serial number from the label, and it will tell you where the melon originated – and what farm produced it. Very cool… Mine came from Tifton, Georgia and was grown by Springhill Farms.

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