Our unusually cool June in Phoenix is over. It’s hot. Yesterday I bought a small seedless watermelon, and Don and I sat in the kitchen scarfing it down while reminiscing about our watermelon-eating pasts.
The small melon we were eating was the perfect size for the two of us. I don’t remember exactly when the “icebox” sized melons became available. Years ago, all one could find were 15-pound giants, with or without stripes, which were best cooled in a tin tub filled with water and placed in the shade. Forget seedless, too. Until recently, all watermelons were rife with big old black seeds. Of course, when you’re younger, those multitudinous black seeds are less a nuisance and more an irresistible invitation to a spitting contest. We ate a lot of melons in the summer. My grandfather raised them commercially, and we kids would follow him down the rows of enormous fruits as he checked to see if the crop was ready to harvest. Sometimes, in order to check for ripeness, he’d “plug” one with a knife, which was good, since we would then get to eat the now-unsalable melon . But mostly he’d thump on them with his knuckles, and judge their readiness by the sound. I never quite learned the knack of thumping, but he never failed to get it right.
I love to make melon salads in summer. I don’t do anything fancy. I’ll ball one or two varieties of melon, whatever I have on hand - watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, Persian - and toss the balls with a dressing made of flavored yogurt thinned with water, and throw in a handful or two of granola. I never have exactly the same ingredients twice in a row, but the result is always delicious.