From a single fragment of a watermelon leaf found in an Egyptian tomb nearly 3,500 years old, researchers have revealed that before its domestication, the ancient watermelon was rather small, with white, bitter flesh. She is said to be from South Africa. The Egyptians would have cultivated it, improved it to obtain a fruit close to the one we eat. The watermelon would then have traveled from the banks of the Nile to the Far East.
Of all shapes, even… square!
In markets, especially in countries around the Mediterranean, watermelons can reach 30 kg. Round or oblong, with green or mottled skin, red or yellow flesh, many specimens are gradually appearing on the shelves.
In Japan, farmers in the Zentsuji region have come up with an amazing way to grow watermelons in glass jars… cubic. The fruit grows while adopting the specific shape of the container. Easier to stack and store, square watermelon is also much more expensive!
Watermelon is part of the large family of cucurbitaceae and its branch is divided into three main types of fruits: watermelon with bitter flesh very popular in Africa and India especially for its seeds, watermelon with jam whose flesh is white, often called “Spanish melon” and finally the sweet-fleshed watermelon, which is mainly consumed in summer for its thirst-quenching properties.
The virtues of seeds
Seedless watermelons have also appeared in Europe in recent years, while in Africa or India, fruits that produce a lot of large seeds are very popular because they are very rich in protein, carbohydrates and fat. The seeds are crushed to produce oil and flour.
→ DISCOVER From “bananas-peas” to seedless watermelons
So this summer, don’t hesitate to cook the seeds of your watermelons: they are delicious to peck. You just have to roast them for a few minutes in the oven. Season them with salt, spices and nibble them like this or incorporate them into a salad.
In my library
A beautiful novel: The sweet taste of stolen watermelons by Sheng Keyi, denounces the ravages of the modernization of the Chinese countryside and sheds light on the lives of ordinary people (Picquier editions, € 17). For very original recipes, such as Guacamole with shredded cod and watermelon or in frozen crumble with fromage blanc, Watermelon, ten ways to prepare it by William Chan Tat Chuen (Epure editions, € 8)
→ PRACTICAL. The zucchini with a thousand faces
Very often consumed in the United States and in Asia, the “white” of watermelon is delicious vinegar, marinated. As for the flesh, it is delicious in savory dishes.
Soy marinated watermelon
For 4 people
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 4 minutes
Cut 400 g of watermelon flesh (with white) into thick strips. Prepare a marinade: 3 tbsp. tablespoon soy sauce + 1 tbsp. level coffee of grated ginger + ½ tsp. of wasabi + 2 pinches of salt. Marinate the watermelon slices for 2 hours in this preparation. Drain and fry them, 2 minutes on each side. Serve these slices of watermelon warm or cold, as an aperitif, with olives.
Watermelon “white” with anchovies
For 2 people
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 2 minutes
Cut 200 g of white watermelon rind into thin ribbons. Immerse them for 2 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain them. In a bowl, mix 1 tbsp. tablespoon of hazelnut oil, 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Incorporate the drained watermelon ribbons, mix and arrange in a dish. Serve with 12 anchovies marinated in lime juice, sprinkle with golden sesame seeds.