William Thomas
food & drink copywriter
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The ignoble adventures of a food & drink glutton

Watermelon man

Well I've gone mad for watermelons this summer, partly from the heat, partly from the cravings of my Hungarian partner who grew up with them as a major part of her summers. I never got into them myself as a kid; all those pips made slurping down their juicy red flesh a nuisance. Turns out I just didn't know how to eat them.

Most meals in Hungary during the summer are finished off with a large slab of watermelon (in my experience), eaten rather daintily with a knife and fork. Sounds silly? Try it. You can extricate the pips with precision, cut bite-sized pieces to avoid too much uncivilised slurping or clothes-staining splashes, and really work around the curves to get to all the good stuff.

Another major boon for watermelons is that they are perfect if it's just too hot to eat anything else. When you really can't face anything else, a slab of filling, refreshing, detoxifying watermelon is a great meal in itself.

I've watched my Hungarian father-in-(common)law choosing watermelons for years and I’ve always marvelled at this mysterious art. He'll scrutinise the pile, pick one out, feel the weight, turn it over a few times, then hold it near his ear and give it a slap, usually followed by a shrug. 9 times out of 10, he picks a winner – sweet and juicy and balanced in flavour. Bad watermelon are a bummer: dry, mushy, or just really bland, that’s a lot of bad fruit to be stuck with. So learning how to choose a good one is key.

Here are my top tips: Look for the most round melons (they seem to be sweeter). Pick a few up and feel their weight. Obviously a watermelon is going to be pretty heavy, but some seem heavier than they should, which is usually a good sign. Next, look for the yellowy patch where the melon was in contact with the ground. The more yellow and 'ripe' this bit looks the better the melon tends to be. If the patch is very white, I reckon it was probably picked too soon. Lastly, hold the melon in one hand give it a slap. Ripe watermelons make this kind of springy ringing sound, which to my ears seems to indicate that they're full of juice and crisp flesh (well, not 'crisp' but firm and not mushy).

Best of all, watermelons require no packaging. Eat, compost, repeat. Zero waste into landfill. And you get to do some weight training getting them from the shop to your kitchen. It's win-win.