I remember the watermelon man driving slowly through my small North Carolina town shouting, "Watermelon! Get your watermelon heah!" Folks would come out of their homes and buy them straight off the pick up truck including my grandfather. I remember he would buy a watermelon, put it in the cooler, and we would slice that baby open when the time was right. Yes, we would have ourselves a cool, sweet ol’ time. There is nothing like sweet, cold watermelon in the summertime. I know, black folks just love watermelon, right. Well, wait a minute because white folks love it too as well as Asians and Latinos -- everyone loves watermelon! Well, maybe not everyone but you understand.
The love for this famous melon dates back 5,000 years when Africans grew it along the Nile Valley (Today known as Egypt and the Middle East). African explorer, David Livingston (1813-1873), describe It as being abundant in the Kalahari desert where it was thought to have originated; there, it grows wild. In America, it arrived via the slave trade. Thomas Jefferson grew it and boasted of its sweetness as compared to his French counterparts. Confederate soldiers use to boil it down as a source of sugar and molasses.
In Africa, where it still grows, many tribes have used it for centuries as a source of water during times of drought. Enslaved Africans in America naturally loved its taste because many of them had it as a source of food in their homeland. Today, many of us get excited when we are in a foreign place and we see food familiar to us. I can imagine the Africans in America getting all excited when they were able to eat their native melon.
This, of course, made it easy for others to create negative stereotypes associated with that love for their native melon.
Well, that is all I have to say about the native African vine (scientifically known as Citrullus lanatus). Go to your local market and grab yourselves a tasty watermelon or some other fresh fruit.
Note: Now, researchers have found that watermelon has a viagra like ingredient called Citrulline that increases sex drive. Well, like I said...
Get your ripe, juicy watermelon here!
Sources: darwin.nmsu.edu, capecodphotoalbum.com, yahoo news
Watermelon photo: Scotland Neck, N.C., Stephen Bess