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Simply Puzzled

Having a moment, that is what that was… okay, maybe it was more than a moment.  Do not ask me why on this particular day, my waking thoughts were a pressing desire to figure out or more like reassure myself that  a few rudimentary essentials were clear in my mind.  “Get your facts straight” Instead of quietly accepting hook line and sinker just because.

Source: Clipartsfree.net – Puzzle Pieces

…Enough with the one-on-one with self. What am I talking about?

Think for a minute.  What concepts or facts, simple on its face, that you think you fully understand but still have question marks all over it(them)? For example, teeth and mobile devices,  the last time I checked my phone did not come with teeth.  do yours? talkless of them being bluetooth (teeth).

Ever wonder why (or if) a tomato is a fruit or vegetable?.. ..those accepted but yet to be verified pieces of “common” knowledge or conventional wisdom that one is still not able to easily explain at the drop of a hat.

Question – what do tomatoes, watermelons, cucumbers, squash, green beans, avocado, peapods all have in common?  They are fruits.  Yes, that was not a typographical error.  You read it right the first time, but to be sure here goes – They are all fruits.  Squash too? Why? because they are part of the plant that develops from the flower and the part that contains the seeds.

Nelson and Zeratsky in Nutrition and healthy eating point out that unlike vegetables which are less sweet or more savory, fruits are generally sweet and tart.  Fruits and Vegetables can be made into a juice and compared to animal products are generally lower in calories and fat, and higher in fiber.

Hmmm.  To be honest, I am not sure I am completely sold on squash and zucchini as fruits.  The last time I checked, it was part of my veggie medley from Sam’s club.  Nonetheless, jolted by this latest revelation the challenge was on and I was set on having all the fun with this connect-the dots exercise.  But with some many choices, the critical question became which one to  pick – which fruit from the list(minnie minnie miney) seemed interesting enough to explore and really one that may not be very obvious to the (mind’s or physical) eye.  On that day, Watermelon it was  Why not? that spherical ball, of red flesh, a welcome source of sweet hydration especially on a hot day. Yum! Yum!

Watermelon, part of the squash, pumpkin and cucumber family, is originally from southern Africa, is referred to by botanists as a “Pepo” which is a berry with a thick rind.  The common watermelons have a fleshy sweet interior which could be red, orange or yellow and sometimes green if unripe.  It is available all year round in the United States due to imports from Mexico and domestic melons are available from May through October, with May through August as peak season.

One way to select a flavorful watermelon is to look out for the creamy or buttery yellow underside, heavy, unbruised round, spherical or oblong fruit with a melon like fragrance.  Also with an open palm, slap the watermelon and a high-pitched tone indicates green or under-ripe product. A dull sound or dead thud indicates an over-ripe melon; deep-pitched tone indicates a melon that is ripe. If you need a small amount of watermelon, it is best to buy a piece of a larger one although it may be more expensive per pound, you are more likely to get good flavor.

Source: Watermelon.org – Spiked Watermelon Balls

The United States of America is the fourth largest producer with Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona leading the pack, however, China is the single largest producer of melons worldwide.  Generally spherical or oval shaped, Japan has found a way to grow cubic melons by growing them in glass bottles and letting them naturally assume the shape of this container.

With a composition of 92% water and over 5% sugar, they are rich in vitamins A, C, B and Potassium and it serves as an ideal diet food because it is fat free and low in calories.  It is mildly diuretic and the large amount of beta carotene (Vitamin A) is good for vision.  Watermelon juice can be made into wine and Russians make beer out of it as well and the inner white rind can be used for watermelon honey.  The rind which has less sugar than the meat and more fiber has many hidden nutrients.  It is high in the amino acid citrulline, a precursor to nitric acid which helps with blood vessel dilation.  The cubed rind is cooked with spices and lentils to make a South Indian curry and fried rice.  It is also sliced, ground and mixed with flour and coarse, unrefined palm sugar (jaggery) to make a batter used for watermelon pancakes.

The red flesh is a significant source of lycopene which has potential cancer fighting qualities for prevention of certain diseases such as prostate cancer. It also contains vitamin B, necessary for energy production and Potassium which promotes good cardiac health.  The flesh is served as a vegetable in China, stir-fried, stewed or pickled.

Watermelon seeds are a good source of protein and oil – about 35% protein, 50% oil, and 5% dietary fiber. The seeds are also rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorous, zinc etc.  In the Arab world, the seeds are salted and roasted and consumed as a snack.  In some Asian countries, they are ground up into a cereal and used to make bread.  Watermelon seed tea is used in expelling tapeworms and roundworms and is prepared by crushing two teaspoons of the dried seeds (black variety are preferred) and steeping them in a cup of boiling water for an hour, then stirred and strained.

The seeds of the sweet varieties of watermelon can be salted, baked and eaten as a light snack and can be ground and mixed with other flours in baked goods (How to make Watermelon Seed Spice).  Ground watermelon seeds can be used as a stabilizer in yogurts, pies and puddings.  Watermelons are a popular gift to bring to a Japanese or Chinese host and in Israel and Egypt, its sweet taste is paired with feta cheese.  It is a perfect addition to salads and can be used as substitute for tomatoes in some salsas.

“The true southern watermelon is a boon apart and not to be mentioned with commoner things. It is chief among this world’s luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat. It was not a southern watermelon that Eve took; we know this because she repented”(Mark Twain quoted in Lost Crops of Africa: Volume III: Fruits (2008), Development, Security, and Cooperation).

The Kalahari Melon (Melon) is the biological ancestor of the common Watermelon found today.  Unlike the common watermelon, the Kalahari Melon has a pale yellow or green juicy flesh and tastes bitter.  They are small and round in the wild and a bit larger and oval when cultivated.  Melon Seed Oil known as Ootanga Oil is a rich yellow oil made from the Kalahari Melon.

Although found all over Southern Africa, the Kalahari melon is most closely associated with the Kalahari sands of Namibia, Botswana, south-western Zambia and western Zimbabwe.  The oil is highly moisturizing, very light and naturally absorbent that can be used as a hair and body oil.  The light texture, moisturizing capabilities and stable shelf life of the melon seed oil makes it a highly suitable addition to natural baby oil formulations since it does not clog pores or prevent the body from naturally eliminating toxins through the skin.  Melon Seed Oil is combined with other thicker oils and those with a shorter shelf life to lighten the texture and aroma and extend its shelf life.  The ground melon seeds have been used as a facial and body scrub.

Melon seeds can be ground up into flour or made into a paste and used as a thickener or flavoring agent in stews, sauces and soups.  For example, in parts of Nigeria, West Africa, the roasted “Egusi” or white melon seeds, a descendant of the Tsama melon, are pounded with peanuts, pepper and Eheru (African calabash nutmeg) and made into a paste with a peanut butter like consistency known as “Ose Oji” which is an accompaniment to the appetizers, Kolanut or and garden eggs or eggplant.  Also these egusi seeds are used to make Ogiri, soaked, fermented, boiled melon seeds wrapped in leaves which is used as a food seasoning.  These white melon seeds are used in South Indian cuisine to add a sweet flavor and nuttiness to curries.

Well, now that we have the watermelons all squared away, what is next? maybe the  difference between a Nectarine and a Peach? Dumbbells, what does that have to do with ringing church bells?what makes Susan lazy? not in my book, given all that it has to carry on its own.  Oh well.

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Author:

Broad based knowledge seeker; outside and beyond the box - arts and culture, travel, writing, christian faith walk, good reads and refreshing conversation - and not necessarily in that order. Storytelling by connecting the dots between the traditional and non-traditional, the obvious and not so obvious.

3 thoughts on “Simply Puzzled

  1. Squash and Zucchini’s are vegetables and are part of the pumpkin family. Talking about melons seeds (egusi), it can also be used as a seasoning when fermented (Ogiri). Egusi has almost as much oil as peanuts – about 50 percent of the seed and is also very rich in protein – about 30 percent. As a result of the high nutritional value, Egusi is a vital tool in areas where malnutrition is a problem.

    1. That was my thinking prior to my research. In my wildest dreams would never have thought Squash a fruit and not vegetable. In botanical circles Squash is considered a fruit.

      Per Wiki -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_(plant)
      Though considered a vegetable in cooking, botanically speaking, squash is a fruit (being the receptacle for the plant’s seeds). Squash can be served fresh (in salads) and cooked (squash stuffed with meat, fried squash, baked squash).

      In the course of my research on Squash, I came across some interesting findings I would like to share;

      a) Unlike Summer squash, Winter squash needs to be cooked –

      b) Zucchini, a type of summer squash is derived from the diminutive plural of the Italian zucca for pumpkin, squash or gourd.

      c) Have you heard of a Turban Squash – has a gorgeous rind, but ho-hum flavor. It makes a good centerpiece, or you can hollow it out and use it as a spectacular soup tureen. Substitutes: butternut squash OR acorn squash OR green papaya. I also learned that Buttercup Squash is an important export crop for New Zealand (according to a 1999 study) and the majority of the fruit is exported to Japan.

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