What is summer without watermelons, right? It's the perfect fruit, both humble and sublime. Some of you are probably wondering why I am writing about watermelons in late September, but you must realize that in Hong Kong summers last forever, or at least until end of Sept or sometime even until end of November! My Dad, or 爸爸 taught me the way to choose a good watermelon long ago when we were living in Texas. Like me, he loved watermelons with a passion and we would come home with huge whoppers of melons, the like of which I haven't seen since (everything really is bigger in Texas), and then it would be scoop after scoop of that red, juicy, to die for watermelon flesh filling you up with all the coolness and loving sweetness that you could desire. In Hong Kong we haven't eaten that much watermelon, mostly because the watermelons always suck once we get them home and open them. I thought it was me or us, that we just didn't get the, you know, the Tao of the Melon.
And then recently I realized, it wasn't us. It was those darned watermelons we get here in Hong Kong that are imported from China. Those insipid, mushy fleshed things that they sell as watermelons. Have you heard about the Exploding Chinese Watermelons? Alot of Chinese farmers in Eastern China have been losing acres of their watermelon crops because they just suddenly exploded, due to overfeeding of growth chemical. Somehow this bit of news explains alot.
The reason we were hit with this epiphany was because a new type of watermelon appeared in the markets. You can see in the photo above that it is the usual oblong shape and there is a green and white sticker with an image of a friendly farmer and the words 'Yong Hua Agriculture.' I saw it and, just out of idle curiousity, inspected the pile of melons, tapping here and there. And then, in a flash, I knew. It all came back to me, daddy's words, the teachings, the Tao. And I knew that the melon I had under my hands was the one. I was sure this melon was going to be a good, no, a great melon!
Well, we brought it home and put it to the knife and it just fell open! Number one sign of an actual great watermelon. Not one of the greatest (I still reserved that spot for Dad's watermelons), but very very good indeed and the definitely the best watermelon I have had in Hong Kong ever.
My Dad's Way of the Choosing a Watermelon
1) The Shape: The melon should be nicely rounded and full in shape, not pointy or thin.
2) The Spot: The underbelly of the melon, ie where it lies on the ground as it grows, should be creamy yellow white, not white or greenish.
3) The Cord: The cut cord (or vine)of the melon should be dried up looking, as opposed to looking fresh and full.
4) The Weight: The melon should be quite heavy, meaning more liquid ie more juicyness.
5) The Sound: The sound should be really full with a echo of hollow. The best way to figure this out is to tap alot of the melons and immediatly compare the sounds to each other. In this way you will be able to distinguish the, say, hollow sound (unripe) or the full but flat sound (overripe). The sound inbetween these two will be the firm but with a echo of hollow sound that you want for just ripe watermelons.
Go with the Tao and let us know how it goes!
More fruity recipes at The Hong Kong Cookery:Berry Tart - Summer in a Mouthful
Fruit Jelly Candies
Durian- King of Ice Cream as well apparently 榴槤雪糕