Watermelon: an Armenian Tradition

If I were to ask you to name an “Armenian fruit,” what would you reply … Apricot? Pomegranate? Quince?

All good answers, but don’t forget about watermelon!

Armenian watermelon crop (Image from ‘Support Armenia’ on Twitter)

Melons of various types are traditional Armenian favorites, and watermelon is near the top of most everyone’s list.

My late father-in-law had vivid memories of the enormous watermelons that grew in his native Dikranagerd (Diyarbakir, Turkey). Twenty-pounders were, and apparently are still, a common sight there – along the fertile banks of the Tigris River.

Armenians make a sweet candy out of the rind, but doesn’t everyone enjoy the sweet meat of the melon all by itself?

Actually…it’s kind of funny, but plenty of people don’t.

Like all fruits in Armenia — and unlike much of what we find in American supermarkets — watermelons are notably sweet. Many Armenians have a tradition of balancing sweetness with salt. So the fruit is often eaten with salted cheese. Some just sprinkle salt right on the melon.

Watermelon with Armenian string cheese

Watching your sodium? Here’s another Armenian way to add a counterpoint to watermelon’s sweetness: Mint. Chop up a few springs of fresh mint and sprinkle over melon slices – or check out this easy recipe from Lauren’s Latest. It’s a perfect marriage of flavors.

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