by Paula Deen
In the old days, Momma and Daddy would drag Bubba and me down to the church on Sunday mornings. We didn’t so much mind going to church—the people were real nice and I liked all the singing—but come August we’d give just about anything to strip down to our britches and go swimming in the pond. You see, that church got so hot that the devil himself must’ve been visiting. The daddies used their handkerchiefs to wipe the sweat from their foreheads and the mommas fanned themselves with the church programs as if their lives depended on it. It was so hot, you could pull a baked ‘tater right out of the ground.
In spite of our suffering, church got one thing right: watermelon socials. Picnic tables that overflowed with salads, homemade ice cream and juicy slices of cool watermelon were just the ticket on a hot summer day. I’d sit in the shade of an oak tree, leaning over a big slice and sink my teeth into it. It was so blistering hot, even the juice running down my arms felt like heaven. When our parents weren’t looking, us kids would take turns seeing who could spit the seeds the furthest. Let’s just say I didn’t lose very often.
This must be a timeless tradition, ‘cause my boys did the same thing. I’d find those seeds stuck to their shorts when I did the laundry. And like most kids, they spent their summers runnin’ through the sprinklers with their friends to stay cool. I can still hear their laughter as they ran around like chickens with their heads cut off. The only way I could get ‘em to slow down was by carrying out a plate piled high with fresh watermelon.
Yes, summer and watermelon go together like biscuits and gravy; you can’t have one without the other. But it’s not just for kids. And you can do so much more than just slice it up. Over the years I’ve come up with a bunch of delicious recipes that seem downright sophisticated, like my Watermelon Salad with Mint Leaves. It brings the two best summertime fruits together in a way that’s sure to impress you (and your taste buds). And be sure to try these recipes out while the gettin’s good, because before you know it the days will start get shorter and the kids will come back inside, making watermelon just another mouthwatering summertime memory.