My old man taught me a few very important things. He taught me how to swing a hammer and square four pieces of lumber, even if they were a rectangle. He taught me that mayonnaise was the best condiment possible for hamburgers and that it was great to slather in excess on freshly sliced summer tomatoes.
And he taught me you should always salt your watermelon.
Abuse of sodium and cholesterol were lessons in my home, and still to this day I can't imagine a slice of ruby-red watermelon without the briny bite of salt. Morton's iodized table salt was in the shaker on the table of my youth but now I prefer the prickly salinity of Kosher. Lightly applied, the result is a warm weather dance of sweet and savory with the floral notes of of summer's iconic fruit dancing in the background.
I haven't seen much watermelon on menus here in Dallas yet, but during other summers I've seen this flavor combo carried through in other exciting dishes. Watermelon pickles take the the flavor play to the extreme and enhance it further with vinegar for acidity. I once had pressed watermelon (the practice carefully removes water, concentrating flavors and texture) served in a tiny salad with goat cheese. A watermelon gazpacho added the element of heat from fiery chilies to the classic flavor we all know well.
For all those frilly preparations, though, my favorite is still the same one I saw on plate after plate growing up. A massive, flat slice of simple watermelon on a plate, lightly seasoned with salt and consumed with intensity.
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