Marinated Watermelon

by Jacqui

A quick hi from Charlotte, North Carolina. They say Charlotte will lose spring to summer in a few weeks, but it’s hard to imagine. If you’re in Minnesota and reading this, I’m sorry to say it, but spring fits Charlotte like a glove. We’ll get there, Minnesota. Believe.

After a long weekend of eating and walking and stoop-sitting in New York, I took a bus to Philadelphia to visit my friend, Grace. The trip took under two hours, and I passed the time by looking out the window. The driver pulled over, announced the first stop, and unloaded our  luggage as we stepped to the side of the highway. A quick exchange, rough at the edges, but with typical fast-talking, East Coast charm. I miss that.

Our visit was short, but we packed in as much as we could. Grace is a mom now, and nothing seems different even though everything is. She’s still laid-back and intuitive, and if I didn’t know how multi-tasking looked before, I do today. She’s a hero.

My friend Jess lives in Charlotte. We used to work together at PF Chang’s, and then we lived together after college, and when I moved to New York she visited and we’d travel to any borough for the best Cuban sandwiches or bloody marys. She has a baby now, too, a boy who’s just about ready to walk, and though she’s not quick to admit it, motherhood fits her like a glove. She and her family live in a busy neighborhood where everyone waves to everyone. The other night we sat on their deck for dinner while a neighbor mowed her lawn. The air swelled with mosquitoes and enough pollen to coat the bare surfaces and stain your bare feet yellow.

In a few hours, we’ll take a drive to visit my aunt and uncle and cousin outside of the city. The last time I saw them together was in Pittsburg almost twenty years ago. I’ve remembered her way of turning watermelon into something extraordinary since then and have found nothing to compare since. It’s a little premature to consider watermelon, especially when some parts of the country are still getting snow, but I think Marlene’s method is worth sharing anytime. It’s simple enough to remember. File it away for a day when only sweet, sour, and drippy fruit will do.

Marinated Watermelon, Marlene’s way

I doubt she used exact measurements, but I can’t remember. I do remember the taste – to get it right, the watermelon should be less sweet than sour and taste distinctly of lemon. The juice should scoot down your chin like with all good watermelon, and the sugar helps extra with that. Use all of the watermelon’s flesh – even the white part close to the rind.  

Peel and hack a watermelon into bite-sized hunks and put them in a big bowl. Squeeze two to three lemons over the lot, sprinkle with a quarter cup of sugar or less, and stir so that each piece is coated. Chill for a few hours at least.