European writers in the seventeenth century associated stuffed watermelons (under the name ‘Turkish pumpkins’) with the luxurious life of the Ottoman emperors, although the watermelon had originated in southern Africa and seems to have arrived in Turkey with Arab traders. Nowadays, the biggest watermelons in the world are grown on the banks of the Tigris River, in a region called Diyarbakır. The ‘First International Traditional Watermelon Festival’ was held there in 2012. In 2013, they changed the name of the event to the ‘Diyarbakır Culture and Watermelon Festival’. I met a grower named Adil Aydan, who proudly displayed a watermelon weighing 49.5 kilos (110 lb). Asked who would need a watermelon that size, he replied: ‘In my area, we have big families.’
Skin and seed the half watermelon and cut it into
Toss the watermelon, feta, purslane and mint together in a salad bowl and drizzle over the dressing. Serve with grilled fish or sardine ‘birds’.
© 2015 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.