Sunday, May 30, 2010


I do, indeed, heart watermelons, and it was something as a shock coming to the US and finding that this fruit - which I'd always regarded as somewhat exotic - bears quite definite class associations (let alone racial ones). My first experience of watermelons was, indeed, of not eating them, when on a school trip to Tunisia in 1969 (in point of fact, a stop on an educational cruise on SS Uganda, and although I'd joined up with a group from my school, I had indeed found myself on it quite independently, through coming first in a quiz competition run by the magazine Pony. Finding out the answers to the 100 questions that were set provided, in many ways, a very good introduction to research methods...). We were warned by our leaders - the school games teachers, Miss Dinn and Miss Haydock, not to eat watermelons, for we were told that they'd been injected with water, almost certainly, to make them juicier - and that this water would carry dysentry, or worse...

But in 1995, when Peter Gordon - a New Zealand chef - opened his wonderful little restaurant (I never thought it weathered its move to Soho) in All Saint's Road, Notting Hill, called the Sugar Club, he served what was, then, a quite extraordinary salad. And I carry on making it, and we had it this evening - basically it involved chunks of watermelon, and mint, and tiny bits of chopped onion, and goat's cheese crumbles, and a dash of olive oil, and lime juice, and toasted pumpkin seeds. It's the most perfect summer dish.

And no, I didn't realize, when I took the picture, that it would come out looking quite so suggestive.

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