Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Of melons and men

Being from the South, one of my favorite memories is of eating big chunks of chilled watermelon on a hot summer day. Unless you've experienced the swampy heat of the South, I'm not sure you can fully appreciate the delectable thirst-quenching-ness of chilled watermelon. Fully. That, and the hilarity of seed-spitting contests when you're delirious from the heat.

So, growing up, watermelon was the fruity staple of the summer. So imagine my surprise when I discovered recently that watermelon is actually a vegetable! Well, "also" a vegetable. In botanical terms, it is actually considered a berry because it is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. But it's also considered a vegetable because it is a member of the gourd family.

It is, in fact, NOT a melon at all.

The watermelon has quite the history. It originated in southern Africa and can still be found growing wild there. It has been cultivated in Egypt since the 20th century BC (watermelon seeds were even found in King Tut's tomb!).

But it's not only a sticky sweet summer treat. Pickled watermelon rind was a staple in my grandmother's kitchen. The rinds can also be stir-fried with onions, garlic and peppers, a common dish in China.

And yes, there is a website called

The watermelon is a very accommodating "fregetable" in many ways. It can even be grown in a cube.

File:Square watermelon.jpg

But at $300 a cube, I'll settle for the old egg-shaped variety.

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