La Víbora de la Mar

There is a traditional Mexican tune “La víbora de la mar” (“The Sea Snake”), which is sung as part of a game.  Two people are assigned as “melón” (“cantaloupe”) and “sandía” (“watermelon”); then they hold hands and raise them to form a threshold between them.  The rest of the participants form a line by holding onto the shoulders of the person in front.  The line goes through the threshold while singing the song.  The two people holding hands lower them down at the end of the verse, and one person from the line gets trapped and is asked the question: “¿Con melón o con sandía?” (“With cantaloupe or with watermelon?”)  The person goes to the chosen side, and forms another threshold by placing her or his extended arms on the leader’s shoulders.  Now the line can go through two thresholds, and the singing, questioning and building continues, sometimes faster and faster with each repetition, until there is no more line left.  I used to play it all the time during recess in elementary school, and much later on, at wedding receptions, kind of a fast-paced conga line; I wonder if it is still popular.  There are no winners or losers, just a lot of happy and thirsty people! After – thinking of – all that exercise for legs and vocal chords alike, nothing better than a refreshing snack …

I still have that second mini watermelon from my carvings that I ended up not needing, but why choose between melón or sandía?  I am going to make a fruit salad instead.  In Mexico, the choice of fruit (and vegetables, such as cucumber) is usually open to what is available, visual appeal, and regional preferences, but there are two elements common to all versions.  First, the ingredients are cut up into bite-size pieces, about 2 cm (around ¾ in) long; second, the dressing is a combination of lime juice, salt and some kind of hot spice.  This seemed like a very straightforward recipe, and all I needed was a name; I remembered the clear plastic cups filled with fruit, sold in Mexico as “fruta picada” (“chopped fruit”, which may also be cut up into sticks, see photo), but as a dish, I didn’t know any names.  Reviewing names for Mexican fruit salad turned out to be much more involved (and interesting) that I had thought, so I will talk about it in my next post.

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