I don't know if it's a Southern thing, or a specific-to-my-grandmother thing, but I grew up eating a lot of melon for dessert, and it always, always, always was served with a sprinkling of salt.
Photo by Rameez Sadikot.
As a child, I didn't know why salt was such a necessary part of my family's melon-eating -- turns out it enhances aromas and reduces bitterness -- but I knew that I liked it, and I knew that watermelon, rockmelon and honeydew felt naked without a little bit of sodium chloride.
This fondness for salting the fruit led to further experimentation, particularly in the case of watermelon, which resulted in pairing the sweet fruit with a variety of other foods and flavourings. The key to a good pairing? There must always be a salty component, otherwise the whole thing will taste flat. Here are a few of my faves:
- Watermelon + Feta + Red Onion + Red Wine Vinegar: Cut the melon into cube and top with crumbled feta and very thinly-sliced onion. Drizzle on some vinegar, toss, and let everyone get to know each other in the fridge until well chilled.
- Watermelon + Prosciutto + Mint: Wrap melon spears in slices of prosciutto. Place on a platter and sprinkle finely chopped fresh mint on top.
- Watermelon + Lime + Chilli Powder + Salt: Squeeze fresh lime juice over melon wedges and season with chilli powder and salt to taste. (Bonus: Soak the melon in tequila the night before.)
- Watermelon + Basil + Fresh Mozzarella + Olive Oil + Balsamic + Salt: Cube or ball melon and toss with torn basil leaves, little fresh mozz balls, oil, and vinegar. Season with big flakes of crunchy Maldon.
- Watermelon + Fish Sauce + Rice Vinegar + Ginger + Peanuts: Whisk equal parts fish sauce and rice vinegar with fresh, microplaned ginger. Toss with melon cubes and top with peanuts.
If all of that is too much effort, just reach for the salt shaker. I promise you will not be disappointed.