May 27, 2011

Watermelon, Yum!

The watermelon in the local produce stores is now fully ripe and delicious! 

Watermelon is native to Africa and appears to have reached America in the 1600s. The plants were grown by Native Americans and grew wild. A French explorer in the Louisiana territory described watermelon to the people of France: "The space within that is filled with a light and sparkling substance, that may be called for its properties a rose-coloured snow. It melts in the mouth as if it were actually snow, and leaves a relish like that of the water prepared for sick people from gooseberry jelly."

Not many people eat the rind, but in the mid 1800s, the rinds were flavored and preserved. The rind is actually much more nutritious than the pink flesh but the flavor is so bitter, many people are put off by it. The leaves in the recipes are to dye the rind a yellowish-green color. The preserved rinds were used to decorate the tops of baked goods. 

In China, salted watermelon seeds are a yummy treat. They prefer watermelons with seeds much larger than we import into the states. They are available commercially in bags much like sunflower seeds and are eaten much the same way: The seeds are opened with the teeth, and spit out and the inside seed is eaten. They are a popular snack to eat during movies. (If you want to watch some Chinese movies while you eat these, "Blind Shaft" and "Raise the Red Lanterns" are the movies we watched while being adopted Chinese for a weekend.) 

It really makes you think about how much is really edible that we don't eat and how cultural influences really have a strong impact on what people deem food.I've been enjoying my favorite watermelon dish "watermelon balls" which is just watermelon scooped in little balls. 


  1. There you go! As a child, I lived under the impression the rind was poisonous, and was afraid of eating the pink flesh too close to it. :D

  2. Yum! I agree with Hana, I had the same fear!

  3. :D I forgot to mention the childhood stories of "if you eat a seed, a watermelon plant will grow in your stomach."

    The rind just doesn't taste good without any kind of flavoring. But 100 years ago it was a way to get a lot of nutrients in times when they were scarce. I am always in awe of the ingenuity of people of the past.

  4. Uummm, that sounds SO good right now! I had no idea that watermelon originally came from Africa! Cool!

  5. Yummy and informative! Hope to see you at work soon. xo

  6. Thanks, Sophia and Jodi. Jodi, hope to see you too.

  7. Great thoughts about food. It is true about culture and how people eat particular foods. Last night, Rhys and I had dinner with our friends. She is American and her Husband is British. She made sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. He and Rhys had never seen that before and he was teasing her about serving dessert on the same plate as dinner. It started a discussion about how in NZ and England, pumpkin is commonly served with a roast dinner where as in the states it's most common in pie or used as a decoration.

    Anyway, I loved all your research on watermelon. Rose colored snow is the perfect description; what a clever guy.

  8. Interesting.
    Watermelon is my sister's favourite fruit. :)
    Every Summer my gran makes watermelon preserve from the rind or "waterlemoen konfyt" as we call it here, as did my Great-Gran before her. The preserve is very sticky and sweet, but tasty. :)


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