My husband and I recently watched a test kitchen’s clip on 59 methods to cook an egg. Brian goes back to Wesley for his last surgery on Friday, to put his intestines back together, so maybe we’ll watch the ones on 32 ways to cook a chicken breast and 63 ways to cook a potato while we’re hanging out in the hospital again.
If there were a similar video clip on watermelons, it’d be on the 37 ways to cut them. I realize that you can easily find recipes featuring watermelon and all sorts of ways to prepare it, yet even I, the queen of messing with things, rarely utilize those ideas.
It’s watermelon. You just eat it.
I don’t know if it’s because of watermelon’s absolute juiciness, or appropriately watery texture, or irresistible fresh sweetness, but the best thing to do with a summer-fresh, fridge-cold melon is to enjoy it just as it is. If someone says they’re bringing watermelon over, you know that’s what they’re doing - no recipes attached.
In fact, I see the very act of cutting the watermelon into an edible state as the attribute which distinguishes one melon-eating experience from another. Instead of baking, frying, or poaching watermelon (which sound uncomfortable anyway), we wedge, chunk, or cube it.
Our preferred ways of slicing it, then, become our favorite “recipes.” And as with anything, many of us have contrary opinions even in such a simple matter. My grandpa has been cutting watermelon for probably most of his 93 years; his prop-and-edge method results in fairly standard large chunks, but it gets there in a unique way I’ve never seen anywhere else. Brian’s father complains when I cut watermelon because he wants the pieces to be in triangle-shaped wedges, rind on and ready to pick up for eating by hand. That’s the shape someone cut watermelons into at church once, but again, the method is what was so unique — this time it involved a machete and lots of flying watermelon juice.
Naturally, I prefer my own style, both the method and the result. Wedges and chunks still taste great, of course, but I find nice, consistent bite-sized cubes easier to eat. And that’s basically my goal with watermelon this time of year: eat as much as possible without becoming medically over-hydrated. So I grab a big knife, lop off the poles of the melon, and stand it upright. Then I can slice down the length of the melon, rotating and peeling off the rind before laying it down to slice off rounds to stack and dice.
I used to get lots of practice when I worked at Cool Beans, and I like to think I’ve honed my skills into an efficient art. Either way, there’s something extremely satisfying about reducing a massive watermelon sphere into tiny organized pieces.
I don’t know what process my best friend uses to cuts her watermelons, but I’ve learned the best storage method from her: a container without a lid. Because then every time you open the fridge you can snatch a few more so-cold juicy pieces, and that’s all I really need from my watermelon.
Amanda Miller writes a column about local foods for The Hutchinson News. She teaches classes at Apron Strings and makes cheese on her family’s dairy farm near Pleasantview. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org