Sunday, April 5, 2009

Watermelons



One of the most common melons in the world, which we all call a watermelon, is called a "pepo" by botanists. Watermelons are believed to have originated in Africa and were described by Africa explorer Dr. David Livingstone as being plentiful in the Kalahari Desert. They were cultivated in the Nile Valley in the second millenium B.C. and many watermelon seeds were found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun. By the 10th century A.D. they were being grown in China, which today is their largest producer. By 1615 the word watermelon had entered the English dictionary.

Early French explorers found Native Americans cultivating them in the Mississippi Valley and they were spotted in Massachusetts in 1629, Florida in 1664, Connecticut in 1747 and the Colorado River area in 1799.

Today there are over 50 varieties that range from one to 200 pounds, with flesh in pink, red, white, yellow or orange. The Japanese have grown square watermelons inside glass containers, to ease storage and stacking and are experimenting with pyramid shapes. Watermelon are 92% water by weight, a good nutritional treat any time of the year.

The oil on canvas painting above was made in 1918 by Boris Kustodiev of his wife. It currently hangs in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. It depicts the bountiful life that had ceased to exist, thanks to the Russian Revolution and the Communist policies that followed.

1 comment:

High Desert Diva said...

I had no idea there were so many different types of watermelon....and growing them square in glass jars...whoa! What a concept.

Love the painting! So nice to see a model who isn't anorexic. Hoping for a cultural turn-around to days of yore....