Thursday, July 30, 2015

Watermelons Then and Now

One of the first things to go extinct is memory
, and that's probably more true in the case of fruit and vegetables than it is for most things, as fruit and vegetables do not store.

And so it was with some interest that I came across a 17th-century painting by Giovanni Stanchi, which shows a type of watermelon that no longer exists because we have "improved" the fruit by making it larger, redder, and largely seedless.

The modern watermelon is mostly red placenta and no baby (seeds), with the red color a function of intense selection for lycopene, the same chemical that makes tomatoes red.

1 comment:

geonni banner said...

When I was growing up in Texas, we had watermelons that looked a lot like these. They had lots of seeds, yes, but oh man, were they sweet and good.

Now I live in California, and I haven't had a really good watermelon in over a decade. They are either mealy and dry, or sort of rubbery, and both are virtually tasteless.

I look back to those watermelons with the occasional empty spaces and tons of seeds, with sadness. Sitting on the back stoop, spitting watermelon seeds into the grass was a ton of fun on a hot summer day.