Archived Story

It’s nearly the right time for tasty citrullus lanatus

Published 6:28pm Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The recent rains — OK, downpours — likely resulted in some folks being upset for various reasons.

Rain causes baseball games to be cancelled or delayed. Rain causes outdoor cookouts to be moved inside. Instead of being grilled over a charcoal-fueled or hickory-fueled fire, steaks are broiled or fried. There’s a big difference between a steak grilled over hickory and one broiled in an oven — trust me.

As for those heavy rains, a like to see a few more of them in the coming weeks. After all, generous amounts of rain mean fat, juicy watermelons and cantaloupes for consumption this summer. I prefer the oblong watermelons to the more-round watermelons, but I will not turn away any watermelon. I even enjoy pickled watermelon rind.

I’ve delighted my senses of taste and smell by eating deep-fried watermelon. That’s right, deep-fried watermelon. After all, we are in the South. My experience with deep-fried watermelon occurred several years ago when Russell “The Omellete Man” Gibson, known for his culinary prowess at Washington’s Golden Corral, went out of his way to prepare and serve me deep-fried watermelon. Being a Southern man himself, Russell understood that watermelon and deep-fried were meant to get together sooner or later.

One Saturday morning, Russell noticed that within his reach were watermelon and waffle batter. Russell put two and two together and a couple of minutes later placed before me cubes of deep-fried watermelon, sprinkled with powdered sugar. The batter was fried to a golden brown. Inside, the watermelon cubes retained their juiciness.

Viola! (As the French say when a new culinary delight is invented.)

If I had spent more time thinking about the possibilities of marketing deep-fried watermelon instead of eating it, I am convinced Russell and I could be retired millionaires by now. First, we would have taken our discovery to the N.C. State Fair, where deep-fried foods — many on a stick — reign supreme in the food court. We would have taken our show on the road, visiting state fairs in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and other Southern states where the words “watermelon” and “deep-fried” on our concession stand would draw thousands of customers.

We would serve deep-fried watermelon platters with side dishes of Moon Pies and ice-cold RC Colas. We would serve deep-fried watermelon on a stick so our customers could munch away while using their free hands to toss a ring around a square block in attempts to win giant, furry watermelon-shaped (and colored) pillow. If available, we would serve watermelon-flavored Nehi soda.

Come to think of it, I’ve never had any watermelon ice cream.

Hey, Russell! Think we can use the soft-serve ice-cream machine at Golden Corral later this summer for an experiment. I’ll bring the watermelon.

Mike Voss is the senior member of the newsroom at the Washington Daily News.

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