While cooking, listen to this: Glacier (Atu Remix) - James Vincent McMorrow
So, apparently the watermelon - that round bastion of summer, picnics and ingenious bongs - has a long, murky history. No one actually knows how the watermelon we know and love came to be, and while there are quite a few candidates for its predecessor, horticulturists are pretty damn confused. One such horticulturist, Harry Paris, blames taxonomists from the 18th century (those tricky bastards), who messed up their melon classifications. Also, fun fact, the name for our modern watermelon - Citrullus lanatus - is wrong. Lanatus means "hairy" (um, ew) and is supposed to be the name for a different, fuzzier melon.
National Geographic wrote all about this here, and it's a super interesting read. I recommend tucking into it when you have a party to go to and want to bring along some cool science facts, or if you're feeling down on yourself. At least you aren't the person who misclassified a watermelon.
Watermelon might have a confusing backstory, but that makes it all the more interesting! Not only is it refreshing and the most beautiful color, but it's mysterious and probably rides a motorcycle that your parents would HATE.
Watermelon is also really versatile. Aside from being divine on its own, it can be used in all kinds of sweet and savory, edible and drinkable recipes. Now that we're in the thick of summer in New York, with extreme humidity, heat and air conditioner drips that fall upon us, as much as I love cooking and baking, there are times when I cannot look at my stove without a heat flash descending upon me. So, I've been thinking of foods that will cool me down and are easy to make, meaning I can spend less time in the kitchen and more time in front of my AC.
This salad is exactly that. Cucumbers and watermelon are both, like, 98% water, so you can stay hydrated on even the most satanic of summer days. It's also really quick and easy to make, meaning you can pretty much stand in one spot to make it and not expend any more energy then you absolutely need to. Extra flavor comes from feta, limes and sumac, a lemony spice you can find at Whole Foods or Middle Eastern grocery stores. Totally worth it - it's SO good.
You may feel sweaty and frizzy and kind of like a pond creature, but remember this: the watermelon's classification is literally "hairy melon." Is your name hairy melon? No (well, I hope not). So turn on your fan, take off your pants, throw this salad together and be thankful that your parents are not 18th century taxonomists.
Love and meows, Rina
CUCUMBER WATERMELON FETA SALAD
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 15m
Category: Salad, No-Cook, Summer
2 cups cubed watermelon
2 cups cubed cucumber (try saying that 5 times fast)
½ cup crumbled feta
1 lime, juice and zest
¼ teaspoon sumac
Drizzle of olive oil
Prepare the salad: in a large bowl, combine the watermelon, cucumber, lime juice and zest, sumac and olive oil. Stir a few times to incorporate all ingredients, but not so much that the watermelon breaks apart.
Add the feta: sprinkle the feta on top, and stir once or twice. Again, this is to ensure minimum breakdown of the ingredients. Serve immediately.
To keep: this salad, well, doesn't. We had a bit of leftovers and expected to eat them for lunch the next day, and they were a sad, soggy mess. But we have a solution! Store the different components separately, and then put together when you're ready to eat.