Summer Melons

I love summer melons. I don’t know exactly when that thought occurred to me, but it was sometime after the stunning brunette had seated herself at the bar. Summer is certainly better to some people than others. It was certainly good to Ms. Brown. And she was treating the rest of us to that goodness. Not everyone can get away with shorts and high heels, but Ms. Brown was doing her best. Not everyone can get away with stretchy tank tops either, but I digress.

“I feel like a margarita,” she said sitting ramrod straight in her chair. Straight enough to cause the fabric of her shirt to stretch upward.

“But not exactly. Maybe something different?” she said.

Now I love a woman who loves tequila. It certainly puts the crazy part in crazy, stupid, love.

Instinctively I was also ramrod straight, standing. People are often put at ease if you mimic their physical gestures. If they cross their arms, you cross your arms. If they smile, you smile etc. And my goal in public service is to put people at ease. If that person happens to be a gorgeous woman pushing the envelope on material elasticity, well, we all have our crosses to bear.

“How about a watermelon margarita?” I said.

“I don’t like blended drinks,” she said. “They give me a headache.”

Now this was the kind of woman that one might wish never, ever, got a headache.

“Those are so 1988,” I said.

And believe me they are. The interesting thing about fresh fruit margaritas is that you almost always see them blended with ice. An unpleasant prospect for two reasons. 1. It makes them too cold (ice cream headache anyone?). 2. It over dilutes them, making them taste watery, especially towards the end of the drink.

The way to avoid these unpleasantries is to make a fruit puree first, adding a little sugar, if necessary. Then combine the fruit puree with tequila, triple sec, fresh lime, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake the entire mixture and either strain into a chilled cocktail glass or serve with the ice in a highball. Either way they are delicious.

The beauty of a watermelon, aside from the size, is that no sugar needs to be added and making a puree is as simple as food processing the flesh of a seedless version until smooth. My recipe for a non-alcoholic version, called the Mamarita, appears in local author Erika Lenkert’s cookbook Healthy Eating During Pregnancy, which also contains special tips for lactating mothers. But I digress again.

I made one for Ms. Brown.

She sucked on the straw slowly through highly glossed lips. Stopping, she then patted her little chain necklace with its pendant hanging somewhere out of sight.

“Watermelon, I never would have thought,” she said swallowing.

Watermelons are a quintessential summer fruit. Ironic, since watermelons grow year round and there are ongoing debates about whether they are fruit or vegetable. In fact in 2007 the watermelon was declaredOklahoma’s State Vegetable, but then, that isOklahoma.

Here are some other facts about the watermelon that you may or may not know.

-Chinais the largest cultivator of watermelons in the world. There, the rind is often pickled and served as a vegetable.

-Watermelon may be a natural Viagra, say some researchers. Watermelons are rich in the amino acid citrulline which relaxes and dilates blood vessels much like Viagra and other drugs meant to treat erectile dysfunction.

-Both beer and wine are known to be made from watermelons. However watermelon liqueurs are most often flavored with artificial watermelon which tastes like something, just not a watermelon.

-Midori melon liquer is not made from watermelons but instead gets its flavor from muskmelons-honeydews, casaba and cantaloupes. Oddly, Armenian cucumbers are also a type of muskmelon.

-In the 1980’s drinks called “watermelon this” and “watermelon that” were often made with combinations of Sloe Gin, Southern Comfort and pineapple juice. Yuck.

-Watermelons contain a high amount of lycopene, a carotenoid which is thought to help reduce the risk of prostate, skin, lung and breast cancer.

All of this information I would have happily shared with Ms. Brown had she stuck around. But, she soon rose to leave. Pointing at my wedding ring she asked:

“How married are you?”

“Enough,” was all I could think of.

As she bounced out of my view I was left with two thoughts.

  1. I  really, really, do love summer melons.
  2. Sometimes I really, really do love my job.