Friday, August 3, 2012

Watermelon on Ice


Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled--to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world. -Mary Oliver

A small but important fact about me is that, while I'm not at all a picky eater, there are three things that I'm categorically against--at least 99% of the time. The first major offender on my list is mint and, yes, I know this makes me a little weird. It certainly causes a lot of confusion; people can't understand why, after a garlicky meal, I'll refuse their kind offer of something mint flavored to freshen my breath. In the great garlic vs. mint debate, garlic would win each and every time. Even my closest friends often forget this quirk of mine, wanting to share the bounty of their gum collection with me whenever we're hanging out. Of course, what makes this doubly confusing for them is that I'll occasionally have a scoop of Mint Chip Ice Cream and I'll also never say no to a Mojito (fresh mint is definitely preferable to the "fake" kind). What can I say? The rules, at least when applied to mint, aren't hard and fast. Kiwi, however, is a different story entirely. I don't know when I started hating it because, as far as I can remember, there was a period in my childhood when I was obsessed with it. I can only surmise that something went horribly wrong in this love affair, poisoning me against kiwi forevermore.  To this day, my stomach shrivels at the sight of it. And, strangely, watermelon used to be on this list. I think it's a texture thing; I'm not all that crazy about the seeds and I'm not overly fond of its general mushiness.

 But I recently started having a change of heart concerning watermelon. It's hard to say when it happened. I had my first watermelon and feta salad a few years ago and, ever since, I've been having variations of it, sometimes with arugula and sometimes not. For some reason, this pairing worked surprisingly well for me; I think that the key was mixing things up a little and contrasting it with other flavors--that perfect blend of sweetness, saltiness and a little kick of spice. Now I'm also becoming increasingly curious about its potential for pies and tarts; is watermelon pie really an impossibility? The internet tells me it's not, although these weren't quite what I had in mind. And, of course, there's also the small fact that the Greek is crazy about watermelon (Greece is a major producer) and, when we were in Greece, they would often be sold on each and every street corner. It was clear to me that, cliche though it may be, when in Rome, one must do as the Romans do.

 This past weekend, we also found some beautiful melons at the Grand Lake Farmers' Market in Oakland and the Greek went a little crazy buying them. While I waited with the other bags by two adorable dachshunds I was longing to take home with me, he went off and bought about 30 pounds of melon. 30 pounds. Our car was nowhere in sight; it was just us and our two bikes. Needless to say, this was a little tricky, but we managed. I will never quite comprehend how the Greek biked uphill with all this fruit--plus a few eggplants--in his backpack, but I suppose it's true that miracles happen everyday.

 When we got home, however, we were both nearly dead to the world, tired and hot from the ride home with all of our bounty. The only thing we wanted to do was to drink something refreshing. As I took charge of putting things away, the Greek started assembling ingredients on the table--lime, sugar, ice and the huge watermelon that just was begging to be sliced open. Soon enough, the immersion blender, a citrus press and a huge pitcher joined the jumble on the table...and then there were two wine glasses filled with a frothy, bright pink liquid. Not quite an agua fresca or even a granita, it was more like blended fruit on ice. And I can honestly say that it was the best "watermelon" I've ever had--sweet, tart and icy cold. The mush that I sometimes object to had all but disappeared and, thanks to the bits of crushed ice that the immersion blender failed to take care of (the same can be said of the few seeds that the seedless watermelon had), the drink had some much welcomed texture.

 I think it's fair to say that the very fact that we made it again the next day is proof that this is a keeper. Something tells me that this will be making its way onto our summer table for many years to come. Perhaps next time, we'll even give it a little boozy adult zing with limoncello and lemons. I suspect that it might serve as a nice replacement for the usual brunch mimosa. If you make it and try something new, I'd love to hear your ideas!

P.S. I've been trying to be both a good dissertator/grad student and blogger recently. The former is a work in progress, but the latter is moving along nicely. I organized all of my recipes for easy perusal and also tried to give you a better sense of who I am--if I haven't already.



 Watermelon on Ice

 Yields about 3-4 servings


2 pounds watermelon
juice of 1 1/2 limes
1 tray ice cubes
1/4 cup sugar

-Slice the rind off of the watermelon and cut the watermelon into small chunks.
-Place in a pitcher and then add the lime juice, the ice cubes and the sugar.
-Blend (we used an immersion blender, but a real blender would work just as well, if not better) until the desired consistency.
-Pour the frothy drink into two summery wine glasses and feel refreshed.

10 comments:

  1. Another mint hater here -- I thought I was the only one! The very thought of chewing gum makes my stomach turn. I do, however, love fresh mint in savory cooking -- such as watermelon and feta cheese salad! This leads me to believe that a bit of fresh mint blended into this delightful refresher might be delicious...

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    1. Apparently, Ann, there are many of us; I'm also with you on the gum front!

      Surprisingly, I can also tolerate mint in savory things; with certain vegetables, it's a nice garnish and I've used in risotto before--without regret!

      You're probably right about the mint here. I bet it would add a nice touch! As soon as we get another watermelon, I'll try it!

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  2. Replies
    1. I thought I agreed with you, but it works well as a liquid--really well, in fact.

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  3. Try it with some mint in it now! (I actually never knew you didn't like it!) :P

    Actually, a bit of basil goes great with fresh watermelon, IMO.

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    1. Hmmm, maybe you're one of the friends who simply forgot this weird quirk of mine?

      I like the sound of basil, though. And the Greek and I are supposed to create (or try to, at least) a spice garden in our apartment, so maybe we'll soon be growing basil for these very purposes!

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  4. Looks good! I am not the hugest fan of watermelon either, and for the same reasons...give me a peach instead! I love the magical things that transform an ingredient for us, though, and always unexpectedly. A great discovery!

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    1. Yes, I'd take a peach over a watermelon any day! But perhaps, in a lot of cases, it really is a question of form and texture, rather than of flavor. I had some watermelon agua fresca in San Francisco recently and it was amazingly good--different from this, but equally refreshing and flavorful. With all these discoveries I feel like I'm on the brink of becoming a watermelon convert. :)

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  5. Wow, your photos on this post are BEAUTIFUL! And I love your new About page and Recipe page. What an inspiration you are to me! Thanks!

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    1. Thank you, Moriah! I really think it's the colors--the bright pink of the watermelon and the green of the lime. There's something about summer fruits that lends itself to simplicity; you barely have to do anything to it to make it look good. It does the work on its own.

      And I'm glad you liked the pages! I need to do a travel one, too; perhaps this could be a weekend project!

      You're welcome for the inspiration; I feel I get a lot of it from you and your baking creations, too!

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