Quick, where did watermelon originate? If you think of Texas or Ontario, or some European country, you are on the wrong track.
The ancestral home of this summer fruit is the Kalahari Desert in Africa where it still grows wild. The ur-watermelon is very small with white flesh, bitter, or “off-dry”. Since then farmers and now specialized scientists have converted the original watermelon to what we know as the succulent, juicy fruit, millions love.
Cultivation of watermelon goes back 50 centuries tot eh Nile Valley; here watermelon seeds were placed in the tombs of Pharaohs to nourish them in afterlife.
Romans we also fond of watermelons, and Galen considered them to have medicinal powers.
The Spanish brought watermelon seeds to the Caribbean and the French via Canada to Midwestern USA in the 1500’s.
American fruit-breeders were successful in creating seedless, very sweet watermelons, which I consider to be less flavourful than those with seeds.
At one time, oblong watermelons were popular, now round and small ones reign supreme.
In North America watermelons are relatively affordable, while in Japan the fruit is considered luxury fruit retailing for $ 25.00 and up, but then all fruits in that country are very expensive.
Japanese invented the cube-shaped watermelon to save storage space. This requires special attention during growing, but also costs three times as much as the regular version. Believe it or not, they also created a pyramid-shaped and more expensive watermelon.
There are some 1200 varieties of watermelon, ranging from less than 500 grams in weight to over 45 kilograms; they are of different colours, including yellow.
In many hot countries watermelons are the go-to fruits in summer.
Millions enjoy them al fresh, ice cold, and cannot eat enough, but some watermelon lovers with an artistic inclination like to carve a variety of “pictures” or designs on rinds and organize competitions to choose the most appealing.
Some love to eat watermelons, others use them for their seeds, yet others make juice, and the artists use them as their canvas.
Talk about versatility!