Sunday, June 12, 2011

On eating a watermelon

I can’t believe I’m eating watermelon in the house. Watermelon was meant to be eaten outside. Is it age making me do it, or just plain laziness?

When I was a kid we ate watermelon only outside. It’s perfect when you’ve chilled it in the refrigerator, then you cut it open and dig in – preferably with the very knife you’ve just used to slice the melon open: a big butcher knife.

When I was a kid whoever cut the melon up ate with the big knife. The rest of us got the regular knife you normally used at the dinner table for cutting your steak. When it came to watermelon eating, sometimes company would prefer a spoon or a fork, but that meant incomplete cutting and/or picking out of seeds. I wanted no part of that.

You had to eat watermelon outdoors because the juice would run down your chin and all over your hands. You’d have to go to the hose to wash off before you could even go back in the house.

Indoor watermelon eating means you are in the air-conditioning, so you are robbed of the satisfaction of that cold sweet fruit chilling your mouth and then your belly in the hot, humid outdoors, perhaps after you've just finished an exhausting day of yard work.

Indoors, you also have to be oh-so-careful not to get that juice all over you – a waste of a good melon-eating experience. (I will give in on this, though: No wasps trying to steal your melon. And no ants, either.)

The eating
If you want the purest experience, first cut out the middle part – the heart – and save it for last. It’s the sweetest. The closer you get to the rind, the less sweet it gets. And don’t put salt on it. Why in the world do people put salt on their watermelon? You wouldn’t salt an ice cream sundae, would you? Then don’t put salt on a perfectly sweet watermelon. Get some common sense.

Anyhow, even though I’ve begun eating watermelon in the house I still eat it the same way as outside, so I have to stand over the kitchen sink. I will not concede to cutting it up into little squares to be eaten later off of a plate. That’s insanity. That’s “restaurant” eating. We are not talking about eating a piece of toast or a boiled egg, here. It should be a primal experience.

When you’ve eaten as much as you want, give the rest to your dog. Dogs will eat stuff that has rotted, so they’re no connoisseurs of tastiness. They’ll think that not-so-sweet stuff next to the rind is the best stuff they’ve ever tasted – and it is, compared to month-old bird intestines they likely ate this morning.

I’m sorry about that reference. It could put you off a perfectly good watermelon. Probably not, though, considering how good it is.

I’m actually a little concerned at my proclivity of late to eat watermelon in the house. If you see me reaching for a salt shaker anytime soon, please, I am begging you, stage an intervention.

Note that even my pooch, Mollie, above, doesn't eat the rind. And what's the deal with seedless watermelon? Nothing to spit!

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