By Nadia Ali. How often do you drive pass the watermelon sellers at the side of the road and glance across to see the price? I recently had visitors from abroad and whereas I just looked to see if the price was right, they saw great big juicy feasts!
“Look at the size of those watermelons!” one screamed in excitement, looking at the huge, oval-shaped melons, tightly packed on the back of the vendors pick-up truck.
“Look how red and juicy!” another announced drooling at the large, red wedges on show.
I have passed the same vendors a number of times and never really have been amazed by the size or look of the watermelons, so to see them in a whole different light was refreshing. I did not even notice that there are typically four types of melons on sale in Trinbago, namely the Mickeylee, Paladin, Sentinel and a name I am familiar with but not as a watermelon…Top Gun!
The Paladin is deep red with black seeds. It is oblong in shape with dark green and light green stripes on the rind.
Sentinel watermelons are an all-sweet hybrid which is deep red, sweet and crisp. The rind is dark green and light green with thick block-like stripes.
The Mickey Lee is a seedless melon, red in colour, almost circular in shape like a ball and the rind is almost a solid light green colour.
The Top Gun is a seedless melon, crimson in colour with a uniform semi-oval shape and the rind is dark in colour with wide uniformed lighter-green stripes.
All watermelons are part of the cucurbitaceous family which include the pumpkin, cucumber and squash. There are many varieties grown worldwide with China being the top producing country.
Trinidad and Tobago produced 378,000 tonnes of watermelons in 2012, according to statistics from http://www.factfish.com/. The fruit is grown in low lying areas in Plum Mitan which is located in the area of the Manzanilla Mayaro Road, Biche, Bush Bush in Mayaro, Sangre Grande, Penal, Aranguez and Caroni. These areas provide lagoon conditions for the vines to run, but recently some farmers have taken to the hillside because of continued flooding problems. Most farmers reap two crops per year which is visible to the public by the appearance of roadside sellers.
So, the next time you see the trucks of watermelons look at the different markings, colours and shapes. And, if you stop to buy one, ask what is the name of the particular watermelon that you are buying… then enjoy your great big juicy feast!
June 2014 – Issue 10 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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