Something happened recently: I discovered grilled watermelon. My SIL Marcy and I were lounging on the beach on Cape Cod earlier this summer, flipping through magazines. In the Martha Stewart June 2011 edition, we found this recipe for watermelon that’s grilled on skewers then paired with a big hunk of feta and a basil leaf.
“Grilled watermelon?” we said. “Why not.” We were on vacation – the world was our oyster.
With the help of my husband, Rob, we fired up this concoction the next night. The rest of our family seemed to like it, and I’ve made it now a few times since. One night, after a barbecue, I snuck out to the kitchen and tore into the leftovers of this strange shish kabob, marveling at how delicious such a simple and odd combination could be.
I’m pretty sure this is the start of something big. I’m just not sure what. All I really know is that there was a time Before Grilled Watermelon (BGW) and now it’s After Grilled Watermelon (AGW): the difference is at once subtle and completely remarkable. After all, if you can grill watermelon then just about anything seems possible, right? I’ve always appreciated good food, I like going out to restaurants, and I enjoy trying new recipes, but I’ve never been particularly adventurous. I’m no gourmand, and probably not even a foodie. But who is to say what could happen from here?
Perhaps I will now become a chef focusing entirely on watermelon. I recently started making a watermelon salad with mint and red onion. From here, I could bake watermelon, broil it, sneak it into grilled cheese sandwiches, sauté it with leeks. I will make a watermelon cobbler and several different types of cookies. They will be delicious. I will open a restaurant called Watermelon and give all the proceeds to the Watermelon Growers of America. With the help of this ingredient, I will change the world.
In fact, it seems that watermelon is some sort of zeitgeist ingredient these days. My friend Sylvie told me that none other than Mark Bittman of the NY Times recently suggested watermelon as a replacement for meat burgers. When I was picking up iced coffee at Le Pain Quotidien on the Upper West Side earlier this week, I saw a watermelon salad with heirloom tomatoes, mint, and feta listed on the specials board.
Okay, maybe I won’t dedicate the rest of my life to watermelon: maybe it’s too trendy for me. Perhaps I’ll instead become some kind of grilling fanatic, trying weirder and weirder combinations until I get “discovered” (or thrown in jail by the board of health.) I thought it might be my slightly skewed perspective that was going to put my name in lights but maybe it is actually my new set of skewers. Maybe the skewer is mightier than the sword (and the pen.)
I could grill partially-chewed bubble gum with sardines and sage. Or hydroponic tennis balls with brie and oregano. Or pickled philadendron leaves with bloody oranges and apple cores. Or…
As you can see, I haven’t quite worked out my plan, but while I hammer out the details over here, I highly recommend that you (in the words of Bittman) throw some melon on the barbie.