Friday, May 22, 2009
Watermelon is a big Armenian tradition
If I say "Armenian fruit," you say... Apricot? Pomegranate? Quince?
All good answers. But why not watermelon?
Melons of various types are traditional Armenian favorites, and watermelon is near the top of most everyone's list.
My father-in-law had vivid memories of the enormous watermelons that grew in his native Dikranagerd (Diyarbakir, Turkey). Twenty-pounders are a common sight there along the fertile banks of the Tigris River.
Armenians make a sweet candy out of the rind, but doesn't everybody enjoy the sweet meat of the melon all by itself?
Actually...it's kind of funny, but plenty of Armenians don't.
Like all fruits in Armenia -- and unlike much of what we find in American supermarkets -- watermelons are notably sweet. Many Armenians have a tradition of balancing sweetness with salt. So fruit is often eaten with salted cheese. Some even sprinkle salt right on the melon.
Watching your sodium? Here's another Armenian way to add a counterpoint to watermelon's sweetness: Mint.
Chop up a few springs of fresh mint and sprinkle over melon slices. It's a perfect marriage of flavors.