watermelon

watermelon

It is finally summer here, after all.

Damn, it is hot.

I know. After months of wondering if the grey cloud cover would ever lift away to reveal blue sky, I have no right to complain. Last week, I felt exuberant, like a little kid released from school, hop scotching down the sidewalk. Warm air, no need to huddle under a raincoat, the chill of winter a now-distant memory. Sitting on the couch, by the living room window, I felt a great lift. Winter had finally passed. We may not have had much of a spring (I never did see ramps in the farmers’ market this year), but each season is a good lesson in how little control we have over nature. Understood.

Let summer begin.

An entire week of gawking at the clear sky and gratitude for being able to turn off the furnace rose through me and beamed from my face. 68 degrees seemed utter perfection to this pregnant woman.

But not 91, in the shade. Oh dear god, being pregnant in the summer is an entirely different experience.

Unless I keep the bathtub partially filled with cold water at all times, so I can stand in there and slowly stomp my feet like a peasant woman crushing grapes? My ankles want to swell like I’m a distant relative of the Elephant Man. My wedding ring threatens to dig into my skin until I can barely move my hands. This is what I get for feeling superior that I hadn’t suffered any swelling yet. Now, only three weeks away from meeting Little Bean, I am wiping the sweat from my forehead with my swollen fingers and sending out hope that it might rain again soon.

Just a bit. Warm rain is fine. But in a city not set up with air conditioners, and a hugely pregnant woman with five pounds of baby bulging within her, this weather just plain sweats.

Except….

(You knew I was going to find the good in this.)

All the spring and summer produce has popped into the markets at the same time. Scarred rhubarb stalks sit waiting next to lurid red and yellow Rainier cherries. The strawberries on Saturday had benefited so much from four days of sun that they loomed almost maroon from their blue pint boxes. Squash blossoms and bitter arugula and the fat heirloom tomatoes, plump and grinning, beckoned us to the tables. The luscious green perfume of basil permeated the air. We may have been sweating when we reached for English peas and cucumbers, but we were smiling.

And another benefit of this sudden intense heat? Watermelon season has begun.

I don’t know why it took me so long to love watermelon. Even though I never think of myself as a picky child, I did eschew certain textural experiences in my food. Tomatoes felt too mushy to eat until I was sixteen. Lima beans disgusted me with their tough exterior and chalky insides. (They still kind of do, to be honest.) And watermelon always tasted too mealy to my tongue. Used to the firm flesh of cherries, the crisp bite of apples, and the succulent indulgence of a ripe peach, I turned my tongue away from watermelon. Mostly water, with a strange little chew at the beginning, watermelon grossed me out.

And the seeds were so damned cumbersome.

Now, I’m happy to sit on the back porch and squeeze the sweetness out of every bite of watermelon, and then spit the seeds into the green grass. That picky kid has become a woman of gusto. Messy taste experiences, richer for diving into them? Bring them on.

At least now I eat watermelon in more forms than as a taste in Jolly Rancher candies.

So the heat will pass. We only have four or five-day heat waves here in Seattle. Later in the week, the air will turn cool and lambent again, the perfect 74 degrees during the day with willowy cool nights. But for now, when it’s as hot as the Los Angeles of my childhood, and I’m forced to wear a wet t-shirt to bed again, I’ll put half a watermelon in the freezer and wait for it to chill. Sorbet? Watermelon ice cubes? A cool gazpacho? I’m not sure yet. This is the level of decision I’d like to make these next three weeks, while waiting for Little Bean.

And you? How do you like watermelon?

65 comments on “watermelon

  1. angela

    Ice cold, with a drizzle of balsamic and torn fresh basil leaves. It’s unusual and wonderful.

  2. Michelle

    I first had watermelon and mint gazpacho on a blisteringly hot day in Montpellier, France. A completely different experience from the tomato version, but both the perfect cooling food on a hot day.

  3. Kitt

    I saw ginormous watermelons at Costco today and almost succumbed, but it would’ve been too much melon for me.

    My favorite way to eat watermelon, aside from just plain, complete with seed-spitting, is to make watermelon with lime and mint, using a seedless melon. Let it steep overnight and it’s simply delicious.

  4. 32Flavors

    A nice cold watermelon margarita sounds pretty darn good after two days of 100 degree-plus weather here in Portland.

  5. alexae

    You may be a little miserable now… but as a summer baby I must say it’s a good time to have a birthday! You have years of summer birthday parties ahead. Kids running in the sprinklers, getting drippy, sticky wet with fresh watermelon and popcicles! Hang in there.

  6. agent c

    I like to freeze my watermelon and shave it… OR I just like it plain. Not very experienced in true culinary arts, really, I just eat.

  7. Jean

    Cubed watermelon, mint leaves, parsley leaves, feta cubes, thinly sliced red onion marinated in lime juice, kalamata olives, dressed with aforementioned lime juice and a drizzle of oil plus some black pepper makes a delicious and refreshing summer salad. Great alongside some barbecued lamb or chicken

  8. Elliot

    Now that you’re in Seattle, if you get the chance to venture East, you’ll find the best watermelon in the world around Umatilla/Pendleton. Keep an eye out for Crimson Sweets come August or early September.

    I used to make an excellent salad out of them, I think it was Walla Walla sweet onions, rice vinegar and watermelon.

  9. Tassiegal

    Highly alcoholic, but some friends of mine cut a small hole in the rind, pour in half a bottle of vodka, bung the rind back in and leave it in the fridge overnight. I’ve never tried it but they seem to think its great.

  10. glutenfreeforgood

    Blend big chunks of watermelon with some frozen blueberries and just a touch of vanilla goat yogurt to make a delightful smoothie. Yum!

    Anxiously awaiting word of little Bean’s arrival! You are about to embark on a magical journey!

    Melissa

  11. Christina

    I remember my mom salting her watermelon and as a kid being grossed out by this.

    I like to make watermelon lemonade w/ mint. Yummy

  12. adreamofeu

    a confession: i came to your blog via your book (i’m not allergic to gluten, but i was curious), and i’ve loved it since. it was a bit of torture to read your book while my kitchen was (still is) being renovated because I wanted to cook every recipe in there and dance in the kitchen!

    Anyway, watermelon is a necessary staple in the south. I have it for dinner on these summer nights when I can’t take the heat any longer and I lose my appetite– a nice cold watermelon from farmers market is all I’ll eat. Half of a big one, even.

    Then I discovered Bill Smith’s Tomato and Watermelon salad. This stuff is pure heaven. You can find the recipe here. You could use bread to sop up the liquids remaining but I usually just drink the whole thing, sans seeds.

    (Btw, I’m a July baby, born during a heat wave, and I apologize to all mothers who are expecting in that month. I really do. :)

  13. Anonymous

    Ice-cold cubes with sea salt and pepper or with ‘chat masala’, tangy spice mix that you get in Indian stores. Or, water melon juice with a dash of sea salt and lemon.

  14. Sho

    I thought I was the only one who did the wet-t-shirt-when-there-is-no-a/c trick!

    I just like my watermelon with cottage cheese. Sometimes I go to the Old Country Buffet for lunch so I can get a big plate of watermelon and cottage cheese.

    Nobody could ever understand how hot summer really is for a pregnant woman unless they experience it firsthand. Even in the winter, I was warmed by pregnancy. It was like carrying a portable oven around. If you have a/c, it will be on full force in a pregnant woman’s home. Even guests will complain about the cold temperature.

    Do you have a wading pool to keep under the shade of a tree?

    Stay cool,

    Shoshannah

  15. Alexa

    Gazpacho is the way to go for me. I had it for the first time at the Getty Museum Restaurant and it was divine: a perfect blend of flavors, creaminess, vinegary tartness, fruity sweetness, accented by some creamy goat cheese. I emailed the Chef for the recipe and waited three weeks for a response (obsessively checking my email multiple times a day)… It finally came with an approximate ingredient list, and I went to work making my own version.

  16. Bookwormlizzie

    Right off the rind. When I was pregnant with my last child, a son, I would eat a whole watermelon every day for about a month and a half. I ate the seedless so no spitting. Just pure watermelon. Yum.

  17. jo

    As a salad with feta, basil, smoked salt and lime juice.

    as a salsa with canteloupe, jalepenos, lime juice, brown sugar, red onion and mint or basil.

    as aqua fresca

    Oh, and the lima bean thing…trust me on this one as i despised them growing up. cook fresh or frozen limas, puree in food processor with some cream and salt and pepper. You will not believe it. Honest injun!

  18. Anonymous

    Watermelon margaritas. Cube the watermelon, remove the seeds, and freeze over night. Throw the frozen cubes in a blender with some 7up and light rum. Garnish with a lime. So refreshing!

  19. LR

    This summer is the first year that I loved watermelon. I never really like fruit before this year– good thing tastes change!!!
    I love Watermelon salad– Watermelon, Feta, and Red Onion with Balsamic vinegar. Add some grilled chicken or shrimp and you got a meal!

  20. Ellen

    Usually just eat it plain. But I remember that Jennifer at Domestic Goddess had a recipe for watermelon & feta salad that I was intrigued by…may try it sometime soon.

  21. mechiko

    My daughter was born at the end of May, so I was spared 90 degree weather — but in Juneau AK it was a hot 75 the week before she was born. I had stretch marks on my ankles from them swelling so much!

    I am still a little grossed out like you said by the mealy texture of watermelon. Maybe someday.

  22. Ana

    I make watermelon pops for my daughter —

    –about 3/4 cup watermelon
    –1/4 cup strawberry
    –about 1/4 to 1/2 apple juice

    * put it in the blender
    * add with enough juice to liquify
    * Pour into ice cube trays
    * put in freezer
    * about 20min later add in some sticks (when its half frozen)
    * I’ll sub other fruits or juice based on what’s on hand. But gotta have that watermelon!

    Voila — healthy “ice cream” for my DD with only natural sugar. She LOVES these and they’re just the right size for little fingers.

  23. helena

    I love watermelon with salt, lime and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. The best and tastes like summer.

    I delivered my baby in August last year. I feel your pain and you only need to hang on a little bit longer. Get yourself in a swimming pool!

  24. Angie

    Shauna–I am NEW here. But I have been asked to prepare a meal for our pastor who will be returning from the hospital (broken hip) tomorrow. He is on a gluten free diet. HeLP! Is there a spaghetti sauce that I can find locally (easy find) to go with gluten free pasta (that is an easy find at Wal-Mart)—any suggestions would be appreciated. This is a new venture for me. :)
    E-mail me at av(underscore)knight at hotmail.com

    Thanks

  25. Anonymous

    I’m not sure I could keep a watermelon long enough to do anything with it other than just eat it right up! I do like to cut up the whole thing, removing the seeds as I go, then chill it in a big bowl so I can have the sweet pleasure later of eating cold chunk after chunk with no offending seeds to fish out of my mouth. Also my little girls eat it more readily with no seeds.

    Kitt’s suggestion of watermelon with lime juice and mint sounds fabulous! I think it will be the first thing I try when they come into season here.

    Kris from Virginia

  26. Stephanie/Idaho

    Love the watermelon ideas! I love watermelon however you make it…or cut it! Love it. Only thing I say is, NEVER eat it right before bed. Well, unless you LIKE getting up 30 times in one night to go to the restroom… hahahaha

    But, because it is been above 100 for the last few days here, it hasn’t seemed to stop me.… I love it — so good for hydration.

  27. Vittoria

    I have always loved watermelon, getting juicy and messy and spitting seeds at friend and foe alike.

    Now that I’m ‘grown up’ and living with my in-laws, I have a new watermelon ritual. After moving in, and bringing my huge cutting knife, this summer it became my job to cut the watermelon.

    We stand at the kitchen sink, me cutting the melon into slices and then cutting the fruit from there with my knife. She, standing a foot shorter next to me, using her smaller knife to cut the little bits of red flesh that I miss. Both eating little pieces as we go.

    When we do this, we have no need of language and it matters not that we can’t speak together. We’re just two women bonding over food.

  28. La Niña

    No one has mentioned watermelon pickles. When I lived in Georgia for 15 years, pickled watermelon rind was a “thang.”

    The baby seedless watermelons are my favorite, though. Not so big so that you have to buy another refrigerator to house them. Watermelon chunks with blueberries, yogurt and maple syrup is an excellent breakfast! Add some GF granola for crunch.

  29. Anonymous

    Am I the only person who doesn’t like watermelon? Don’t like the flavor at all — never have. Oh well, I’m enjoying the other fruit. I’m in Alaska, and we have Washington cherries in the grocery store now — have to be careful not to eat too many at once!

  30. Clean ClutterFree Simple

    I like it best plain, sliced in neat triangles, eaten outside under the sun. I’ve got a nice one on the counter from Trader Joe’s just waiting for me to slice into it…yum!

  31. evil cake lady

    I love watermelon! I eat it just like I did as a kid, with juices running down my chin, spitting seeds into the grass. Nothing fancy, but if the watermelon is good, nothing extra is needed.

    Shauna, keep eating the watermelon! It is a popular way to help with the swelling in late pregnancy. As is swimming!

  32. Angela

    Last summer during a hot stretch the watermelon had not all been eating before it started turning to mush. I put it into the blender with a little simple syrup, to taste, then into a shallow dish and popped it into the freezer. Once frozen, scrape it into cups… makes yummy watermelon slushies.

  33. walker tr

    the MOST amazing flavor– watermelon with fresh lime squeezed onto it. I learned this from a friend while at a wedding in Mexico this past April. Unbelievably good and so simple!!

  34. Anonymous

    that is true, what the above commmenter wrote about the summer birthday parties! it’s nice payback!

    I like watermelon w feta and watermelon paletas, both as already described.

    about yr swelling: drink a lot of water (but not a lot in a rush, you know), then get into the swimming pool up to yr neck. chill out and drink some more water, when you get out, you’ll pee like crazy and be much less swelled. good luck & wishing you all the best! Elodie

  35. Esther Bee

    Watermelon has been my strongest pregnancy related craving (I’m due in the beginning of October). Plain, cold from the fridge is my favorite way.

    I also love watermelon and feta together. If you want to jazz it up a bit, add some mint or basil, and a drizzle of olive oil. But I prefer just plain with some feta cubes. Yum!!!

  36. swirlingnotions

    Only three weeks until Little Bean arrives? Wee hee!

    I love watermelon balls tossed with arugula, prosciutto, goat cheese, basil, pistachios and balsamic vinaigrette. Yum, yum, yum.

  37. Anonymous

    The ‘fridge is not kind to watermelon– the taste, texture and nutrients are all affected. Best not to put it in there if you can help it.

  38. Gluten Free Mama

    Holy crap I never wanted watermelon more than I do now. I’m 14 weeks pregnant, and very grateful that ripe summer fruits are abundant at this point in my pregnancy. I too had a weird aversion to watermelon, noting the texture and the fact that it was mostly water.. I crave it now. I just cut one up last night and ate it raw..nothing fancy, just ate it nice and fresh and raw.

  39. La Niña

    The Q13 news last night said that watermelon has been discovered to have Viagra-like properties. It acts in the same way to relax the blood vessels.

    Eat it in bed.

    With the one you love.

  40. Peanut

    yes! what everyone else said. with feta and mint! no olive oil for me, it interferes with crispy-creamy sweet salty and gives the salad a little too slippery of a mouth feel. i also am obsessed with, though i haven’t found a way to recreate at home, the pickled watermelon and crispy pork belly salad at the fatty crab here in nyc. that line sounds like it’s a string of nonsense words, but i stand by it. it’s delicious.

  41. 20somethingceliac

    Oh my goodness! Why haven’t I had watermelon yet this summer? I think its best eaten in the sun with the juice running down your chin.

  42. Anonymous

    Pregnant in the summer tip # 487:

    GO to Golden Garden with one of those nice big beach towels from Costco. Scopp out a nice holw, slightly larger than a jumbok watermelon. Cover wiht that towel. Lie down on your stomach, fitting your belly into that nice hollow. Nap on your belly, maybe for the first time in months. And remember, being pregnant in the summer isn’t all bad.

  43. smallbluebird

    Great new watermelon ideas here. CNN has a video clip about how watermelon rind acts like Viagra. Hmmm.
    I have always been too lazy to hassle the seeds but my neighbor keeps giving watermelon to me as she can’t eat it all. So I just eat it straight on the front porch swing with Little Leah (16 months old) while the juice runs down our fore arms and lands on our feet. She uses the sign for more because she loves watermelon. A quick run through the sprinklers washes us clean. Just think…you and Little Bean doiing the same thing next summer. Tomorrow, July 3rd is my B’day. Hooray for July babies!

  44. Guinnah

    Both my girls were July babies — one turned 17 yesterday, the other will be 19 on the 21st. To this day I remember going to a 4th of July picnic — having to sit on the GROUND and everyone declaring how “lovely” it all was. At 8+ months pregnant I begged to differ! Watermelon is a perfect remedy for those hot days — we go through almost one a day! Our dogs love it :-)

  45. Cynna66

    I have fairly simple taste when it comes to watermelon. I usually just it eat it as is, whether it’s ice cold from the fridge or picked out of the backyard patch, still warm from the sun. Sometimes I’ll sprinkle on a little salt. It makes a great sorbet too, if you have the patience to wait for it to freeze. I’ve been interested for sometime in making watermelon pickle. I think I will give it a shot this year!

    I feel your pain regarding summer pregnancy. I was fortunate enough to miss the brunt of summer and had my son on June 15th, but it was still tortuously hot. Swollen everything, constantly a sweating, exhausted mess. I spent an awful lot of time eating popsicles and ice, soaking or elevating my feet, and just trying to stay as cool and comfortable as possible. By the time he was born I was crying everyday and begging for him to be born already. Hehehe! Those last few weeks can be a doozy… especially with the heat. Stay cool!!!

  46. Anonymous

    With salt. Salt enhances the flavor. It must be very cold, too. And not too old. Nothing worse than old watermelon.

  47. Mia

    You should try it with fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of sea salt. My friend from Georgia swears by it, and it makes it taste like a whole new fruit.

  48. Niki

    LOL!! I’m not laughing at you just…well..so funny. I was pregnant during the summer in HAWAII!! I can relate to all you’re going through. You sweat in places that you didn’t know produced it. Soon it’ll be different and the little guy will love being out in the warmth.

    The last two watermelon we’ve gotten here have been injected with water. Makes them heavy and mushy inside. Who’s idea was that!?!

    Learned this weekend that dextrin is a wheat product. Label reading can still be a nightmare with all sorts of surprises.

  49. dynagrrl

    I do not like watermelon… I overate it as a child and threw up all night. Could never really stand to eat it again. I do confess to trying it here and there, but the love has not returned.

  50. Odetta

    Although Isaiah was born in mid October, I went through my second and third trimesters in Florida’s hot summer and early fall — wow! My husband was huddled under a down comforter while I turned the A/C down AGAIN and turned on the ceiling fans. It was crazy! Since I am replying to the watermelon post, I guess I’ll say that I like mine straight up! Not too cold, though, because I think the sweetness is enhanced at room temp. I hope you have a lovely birth experience but I also know that you’ll love whatever experience brings your baby to your arms. Good luck!

    Odetta (and Isaiah)

  51. JulieVR

    You must try this: cold cubed melon, crumbled feta, drizzled with balsamic. Maybe some slivered basil. Delicious.

    Yesterday at a Canada Day party my almost 3 year old (born the same time Little Bean is due — 8 months pregnant in the height of summer was not my favorite part) bit the tips off every wedge of watermelon on the fruit platter on the buffet table, and then carefully laid each piece back in place. You’re going to love being a Mum.

  52. JulieVR

    Watermelon Lemonade: this is summer in a glass.

    Cube the watermelon, and don’t even bother to remove the white pits, just the big dark ones. Whiz the cubes in a blender with about 1/4 cup sugar per blenderful, if that.

    Pour the very liquidy puree, through a sieve if you like, into a pitcher. If you pour it through a sieve, swish it around with your fingers toward the end to get as much liquid as possible.

    Now you could mix the puree with lemonade made from a frozen tin. Or (and this is just as easy) make a lemon syrup my stirring about 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2–3/4 cup lemon juice. Let the quantities of each be dictated by your taste. Pour this syrup into the pitcher with the watermelon puree, and add a cup or two of water. Taste it and add more water if it needs it.

    Pour over ice and beam over your very own homemade watermelon lemonade.

  53. raiuchka

    Good thing you like watermelon, because it’s a diuretic and the more you eat, the less bloated you become!

    I like it best plain, but it’s also good sliced and drizzled with a ginger simple syrup, then left to steep awhile in the fridge.

    Or you can juice the watermelon (I use the fruit & vegetable strainer attachment to my KitchenAid) and mix the juice with the ginger syrup to make a yummy summer drink.
    (of course, then you lose the fiber, which is important to a pregnant woman, no?)

  54. Anonymous

    To Niki: I did a little checking on dextrin, since I thought anything starting with “dex” came from corn. Apparently, in the US dextrin is not known to be made from wheat, but in Europe it can be made from wheat. Here is an article with some clarification: http://www.enabling.org/ia/celiac/Dextrin.html

    Kris from Virginia

  55. Anonymous

    I **HATE** watermelon. Gag.

    Being pregnant in the summer is very tough. It’s much nicer to be hugely pregnant in the middle of winter!

  56. jmmarkov

    And now there are all-new reasons to eat watermelon, which (according to a news report today) has been found to have “viagra like effects” and expand blood vessels!

  57. Courtney

    Meloncellos! Blend cubed watermelon with limoncello, light rum, top with club soda and lemon garnish…for after you have little bean!