The art of buying watermelon
you can imagine
October 6, 2004
Do you have a proven working technique for
choosing a good watermelon? You don't just go to the store and
pick up the first watermelon you find, do you?
Sure thing, larger supermarkets take
it back even after you have cut it and it is not the perfect
red, firm, juicy watermelon you wanted, but why not buy the best
watermelon in the first place instead of taking an extra
trip to the store to
I'm not sure if my technique works, but I generally
tap on the watermelon, like knocking on someone's door. If it sounds
if the watermelon is sitting on top of a box or something, the
hollow sound of the box is probably what we hear and it is mistakenly
taken for the sound of the watermelon itself and what you end up
getting is good for making morrabbaa (jam).
seen folks bangging on the watermelon, like they're slapping
someone. I tried that technique and it was actually pretty painful.
You can even injure your wrist because you have to slap it real
hard; the loud noise attracts too much attention!
both ends with their hands; if they hear a cracking noise, the
watermelon is good. This technique is doable if applied
to smaller watermelons that little guys like me can handle. Lifting
a big watermelon and squeezing it at the same time is a job for
Herkool (Hercules) and not very practical. I once squeezed
one too hard; it was one of these yellow watermelons and I didn't
realize they could be more delicate than
the red variety. It broke and I got
juice all over my face, shirt, pants, and shoes.
We were once coming back from Santa Cruz, not far from San Francisco,
and on our way back, we stopped to get some fresh
We saw a guy
holding a watermelon between his legs -- yes between his leg,
about his knees. I honestly thought he was either exercising or
something, at least that's how it looked. Instead
of squeezing the ends with his hands, he was squeezing with his
legs, while knocking on it. The guy looked
Pakistani or Indian - I wish I had photographed him. I cannot imagine
myself holding a watermelon between my legs and knocking on it
in a supermarket.
When I was
younger, I remember one of our neighbors was quick to sit on a
watermelon. Come to think of it, sitting on a cold
watermelon, in the middle of the summer, is a little kinky, but
using her hip power (weight?) worked for her.
recall, we hardly ever bought watermelons from the store. They
were generally sold atop 3-wheel mopeds -- motor sehcharkheh --
or, on those 4-wheel carts selling watermelon
the summer, and laboo (boiled beets) in winter.
I remember the watermelon
seller would always, ALWAYS, make a
little comment like "Khaanoom, befarmaayeen injaa besheneen",
["Lady, sit on this"] implicitly pointing at his you know what,
which I am sure she always heard but pretended she didn't
and always asked: "Bebakhsheed nashneedam chee gofteen!" [sorry,
didn't hear what you said]
I'm not sure how effective any of the
watermelon testing techniques are. Watermelons in the U.S. generally
taste good and no pre-testing is required. That's not how
they think in Iran.
We went on a brief
trip to Iran a few years ago and while there, I went grocery
shopping with my father. The old maydoon fruit market
had now moved up north from the southern, rundown parts of the
city. There are in fact a couple of branches at different locations
Tehran, like Price Clubs for fresh produce. Instead of
buying from the local convenient store, like we used to,
a lot of people go to these maydoons and buy fruit and vegetables
particularly for parties and events.
We were looking for the right peaches
and cherries and grapes. As we went from one
stand to another,
I saw an interesting looking guy, whom I first thought was dressed
in traditional Kurdish clothes (my father corrected me: he was
from Afghanistan). He picked up a watermelon, put it on his
head, and a moment later he fell to the ground. The watermelon,
which indeed was a gorgeous red inside, fell to the
with him, burst open and splashed all over him and everyone
around. People quickly gathered and helped
him come about.
the Afghani Technique is to put the watermelon
on your head and squeeze downward. You either have a ripe skull
with questionable content or a ripe watermelon, and a skull,
still with questionable content.
What's your technique?