When I was in high school, I would spend entire winter vacations at our family friends’ house in Ann Arbor, about 30 minutes from where I grew up. Our parents were really close, and so it was only natural that me and their older daughter would become close as well. To this day we have zero idea how we became friends, and we have tried our absolute hardest to pinpoint the moment it happened. As of now, the assumption is we just woke up one day and, in a puff of magical smoke, we were friends.

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When I lived in Jerusalem (OH MY GOD YOU LIVED IN JERUSALEM YOU NEVER TALK ABOUT IT), I was invited to a friend’s for Shabbat lunch and was tasked with making a side dish. I decided to explore my horizons and make something I’d never made before, and for some reason settled on mashed butternut squash with feta and pomegranate seeds.

Which like, sounded delicious.

But boy was it a mess.

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I know what you're thinking. Another salad. Right? Well, let me tell you, there's no such thing as too many salads. I've mentioned before that salads are traditionally thought of as boring, but what if I told you that this salad was packed with so much flavor it would almost make you forget how healthy for you it is?

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I've been told I'm a great salad maker. It's a weird thing to be proud of, but damn am I proud of it. If there's one that gets a bad rap it's salads. I think the American food system has made people associate salads with sad iceberg lettuce, pieces or purple cabbage and mushy tomatoes doused in ranch or Thousand Island dressing. 

Sad, indeed.

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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 maybe it rides a motorcycle that your parents would HATE.

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When I first started my junior year on study abroad, I made the rookie mistake of actually studying. My roommate, now a best friend, and I would spend hours on our homework, memorizing Hebrew verbs and studying Israeli artists until our eyes glazed over. Silly, really, to think of all those wasted hours that could have been spent at the beach or the shuk. Once we moved out of the dorms, though, and into the city center, we learned our lesson. This is why you should never live more than a ten-minute walk from the beach.

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There's this magical eatery in Metro Detroit called Leo's Coney Island. A humble little place where you can get the most delectable Greek salad. A place where your thighs stick to the vinyl booths in the summer, but you JUST DON'T CARE because even if their fries are a little bland, there's nothing that can't be fixed by a smothering of their world (read, Detroit) famous Greek dressing. 

Leo's is the reason that "Greek salad" has been my favorite food since I turned 6. I remember learning that "real" Greek salads don't have lettuce, and almost bursting into tears. You may think I'm exaggerating, but I haven't met a Greek salad that gives me more joy than Leo's. Since college. I've spent countless hours trying to replicate their infamous dressing. Too garlicky. Too little oregano. Too much vinegar. Not enough Dijon. I got close once, playing around with this (pretty damn delicious) recipe from Cookie + Kate. I finally resolved that I'll never duplicate the dream that is Leo's. 

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