Watermelon Crush

Summer is here in Doha, hard and unforgiving. It’s 43 degrees outside. Hot enough to see the shimmer above your car hood, bright enough to render you almost blind. The air conditioning in the house cannot work fast enough and myself and my two  turkey-complexioned, ill-humoured children need some sort of internal relief.

And then I remembered the hot, crowded streets of Calicut in Kerala and the carts of fat, heavy watermelons dripping with sweet juice. The vendors would hack away at some of them, chunk some of it up, crush the rest for juice, squirt in some lime and pungent mint and decant into a glass with a spoon. So simple and so effective. Sun baked passers-by such as myself, could buy these for pennies, sit on a gnarled bench at the side of the road, under the shade of a coconut tree and take a little time out.

While swatting away the determined flies and trying to slurp/eat this deliciously cool mix, I watched the heaving throngs of equally roasted people pass by. Men in the traditional ‘mundeh”; white cotton sarongs, fat ladies in colourful saris, young women in figure hugging salwar kameezes and children, irritated with the heat, being dragged or scolded into keeping pace with the adults. Occasionally I shared the bench with someone else who was smart enough to do the same. We might exchange a word or two, starting with the the weather, of course. I might have another watermelon crush, if the conversation gets  particularly amusing. More often, I readied myself to step out of the coconut tree’s generosity. I eyeball the watermelons one last time. No. I have to accept that it’s too heavy a load for too long a walk. I’ll send my cousin over instead. He’s got a bike.

So I offer the same to my children, without the pre-requisite of devouring it under the same cruel conditions. Being the kind mother that I am, I sprinkle a little extra sugar on top. Just because.

Their faces are still a deep pink. Their humour, however is restored.  We collapse in a cuddle on the sofa, tired but satisfied and watch another installment of the riveting Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We slowly fall into a doze, my two babies cradled into my shoulders while Mickey chimes in the distance…..”Come on everybody, let’s do the hotdog dance…..”

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16 thoughts on “Watermelon Crush

  1. eatlittlebird

    Stunning photos!!! I absolutely love watermelon and can live on them during summer. In fact, I remember some simple meals as a child where my mother would serve just cut watermelon with a bowl of rice! Your children sound like they will have lovely memories too 🙂

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Ooh now, I have never heard of such a combination! Watermelon and feta, or mint, or lemon, or olives etc..but never with rice!
      Oh and LilLassie is a fiend for watermelon. She is by nature a very neat eater, but this she allows herself to get soaked in by all the juices running down her arms and the side of her mouth!!! Her ma’s not far behind either haha!

  2. Claudine

    Oh wow, what a weird coincidence…

    Only today, my youngest was wondering why it’s cold and miserable here, yet it’s the height of summer, when it’s *supposed* to be hot and sunny! Yeah right… Anyway, that got us talking about our impending holiday to Italy where you can get beautiful, huge, juicy watermelons that I swear weigh more than I do! Sold from stalls in every village market, whole or in chunks or by the slice – in these days of electricity, even refrigerated!!

    Chilled watermelon is the staple summertime dessert, slurping noises are definitely allowed and, if you’re a kid (or even not as the case may sometimes be), so is firing the odd pip at an unsuspecting relative – strategically placed between thumb and forefinger, with a good squeeze it is possible to get them to go quite a distance!

    Only six more sleeps and that once again becomes a reality – I can see me raiding our Uncles herb garden for some mint and buying some limes from the ‘fruttivendolo’ to make this…

    Yet another post that, for me at least, evokes fond memories.

    Thanks Carrie xx

    1. thePatternedPlate

      That sounds blissful Claudine!! I love the pip-ing!!! ahah! Must try that myself some time! Target shall be LiL Lassie, she rises to such things wonderfully LOL! Oh I know what you mean about the sizes! They are extraordinary. My swiss neighbour was shocked almost at the vulgarity of their sizes haah! And was thoroughly amused at the Indians, playing bongos with them! Indians thump lightly with their hands on these huge melons and can tell by the noise if its a good ‘un. Its a technique I have yet to practice!

      And when you do make these, take pics to post when you get back!! And yes mint and this with a light squeeze of lime…the best thing on a hot day!

  3. NYinRome

    oh looks like you’ve got us all reminiscing?spelling!)anyway, I instead remember very hot city summers in August, my birthday month when Dad would buy a huge watermelon and in our “backyard” hot pavement and concrete just about steaming all over he would crack it open and cut pieces randomly giving it out to all of us, kids and adults, and all the same on our feet biting into it runny and sweet licking and sucking and pit fights all the way……now that made a BIG difference on a hot city afternoon!
    Gorgeous idea, gorgeous recipe….it’s actually pretty hot here too;)
    Thanks for the memory….

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Oh thanks love, but thats what I want Terry, I want you to look back and hopefully its a good trip!! I can imagine the scene with adults and kids getting stuck into a juicy watermelon! Such a simple pleasure, no?

  4. Jean

    Oh, so evocative.. A gorgeous and beloved fruit with memories flooding like the generous juice from the ruby-shaded flesh.
    I can feel that shimmering heat, see the bustle of the crowd, the colours of it all, and the damp and cross children soothed by mammy’s love and tender wedges of melon… Love it.

  5. Meenakshi

    My in-laws live in Doha, and summers there are insane. Like I never knew it could ever get that hot. Watermelon is such a wonderful fruit. I like the fact that it gets messy!

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