Over the last few years, watermelon of the seedless variety has seemingly conquered what was once a seed-only market. As a kid (to give you an historical reference here, think the golden years of Michael Jackson and Van Halen), I don’t remember ever devouring a ruby wedge of watermelon that wasn’t bedazzled with dark seeds. Sitting on a porch stoop or picnic table, eating that half-fruit/half-water confection, and silently spitting out slippery seeds, was one of the happy givens of summer. Spitting without consequence was one of the best parts of the experience of eating watermelon, was it not? But then gradually, creepily, the seeds became smaller, thinner, wimpier. Summer after summer they lost their heft and faux bois woodsy coloring, becoming a flimsier, almost translucent version of their former selves, until one day you realize, “hey, what happened to the seeds?”.
At first, it seemed like the cleverest of marketing strategies, right? Along with skim milk and egg white omelets, let’s take away the perceived baddy part of what nature has createdâafter much time and evolutionâto make things more convenient for ourseves. But then, like any good-bad thing, there’s a rub: Take out the seeds, genetically modify any food that nature in its wisdom has made so for probably a very good reason, and something else disappears… In the case of milk, eggs and butter, we’re learning that basically all the good stuff is in that fat. With watermelon, I might extend that argument and say that all the good stuff was because of the seeds, specifically the flavor.
Luckily for me, my CSA farmer is growing terrific heirloom watermelons with the seeds! So we have been happily expectorating the little buggers all over the place, just like the good old days. Do I think that watermelon with seeds in it tastes better? I do. But don’t take my word for it: find yourself a seeded watermelon and taste for yourself.
To be fair, some science has come out saying that there’s nothing to the seed-flavor argument, it’s all in my head (perhaps a result of listening to too much Van Halen). Perhaps. But when I chomp on a purely seeded watermelon I really do feel like it’s the way it should be, in all its messy authenticity. How about you?
And a bonus: If you’ve never read anything by the great Southern writer Eudora Welty, then start with her novel Delta Wedding, which has one of the best scenes with a watermelon I’ve ever read.
Have a good weekend!