In the September 2008 issue of Saveur, a magazine dedicated to authentic cuisines where ever they can be found, there's an article that has a very local flavor, if you will, to me.

The title is Why We Love Watermelon and thus it'll come as no surprise that the writer, Dana Bowen, chose to explore the topic of Watermelon.

Normally I'd skip over a topic as sweet as this because I have a nasty allergy to many fruits. This is known as Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) and while it's not usually dangerous, as are some food allergies, it is quite annoying. OAS is apparently the body misinterpreting fruit as pollen and it causes your mouth to burn and itch---and I can assure you, it itches A LOT! But to get back to my point---don't you hate it when a writer is constantly going off on tangents? oops---this article is based right here in the RTP area of North Carolina.

Bowen starts off the article by mentioning the State Farmers Market in Raleigh, NC and quickly establishes that despite being a New Yorker, she has roots in this area of the South. Nice move. And she goes on to discuss old watermelon cultivars that were sold here when she was young, like the Charleston Gray, pictured to the left, which she last saw at a farmers stand in Carrboro, NC. Now, in this country, the Gray can be best found in the genetic background of cultivars like the Crimson Sweet and Charlee. Indeed, older cultivars like the Charleston Gray were developed in the lab from yet older strains. The Gray was developed in 1954 from the following cultivars:

(((Africa 8 x Iowa Belle) x Garrison) x Garrison) x ((Hawkesbury x Leesburg) x Garrison)

How's that for a background that could possibly get you on the Jerry Springer show? The good ole Garrison name appears a few more times than would be comfortable in a human family line. Do I hear someone plucking "Dueling Banjos" in the background?

Additional local color in the article includes mentions of the horticultural college at NC State, Crook's Corner, a well known restaurant in Chapel Hill, as well as a number of local farmers like Odis Johnson (Benson, NC) and Brent Jackson (Autryville, NC) who aided Bowen in her search for the Charleston Gray.

What I liked best about the article is the beautiful pictures of a variety of current cultivars as well as a number of recipes using different types of watermelon for various culinary purposes. Relish, pickle, salad, pudding, and even a type of curry are detailed in recipes. It's all enough to make me chance a brush with my allergy to melons and make a few of these dishes.


kenju said…
I cannot imagine having that kind of allergy, especially to fruits. Too bad! But that melon looks worth it, Dave. I've never heard of that one before.
GA Girl said…
I'm very glad I don't share that allergy - the watermelon picture looks delicious.
Michael Manning said…
I have a dear friend with allergies to cylicilates, food coloring and all natural sugars within fruit. Stay well, my friend!
The Evil Twin's mother lived on watermelon when she was pregnant with him - he hates all melons. I think that is un-American! LOL. Sorry 'bout the allergies. That would stink.

Popular posts from this blog

ankles: the sequel

is my potato breathing?

Bread is Dangerous