My mini watermelon crop (Citrullus lanatus, var. Sugar Baby) looks good this year; small, but healthy fruit has been growing for the last two months, as seen in the example, below:
Sugar baby watermelon grows fast, then turns dark green as it matures (photo below, left), and the best sign of ripeness is the pale spot on the bottom side turning creamy coloured, or yellow (photo below, right):
My harvest of the first watermelon coincided with spotting a large cucumber specimen, somehow overseen, yet scot-free, until then:
This particular watermelon was a small, 4-5 inch fruit, but typically this variety might grow up to 7-8 inches in diameter. In contrast, my neglect did not thwart the development of this cucumber, which had grown to a little over 12 inches long!
Baby watermelons are at their prettiest when cut in half, then hollowed and stuffed. In the photo below, the watermelon halves show bright pink flesh; it looked like it would be mealy, but it was actually flavourful and juicy:
I scooped the flesh into balls, removing the seeds (photo below, left). In addition to the watermelon balls, I added clementine sections and pineapple chunks to the hollowed rinds, for a refreshing fruit salad, served in a natural bowl (photo below, right):
In my previous post, I shared two recipes for homemade chamoy, a salty/sour sauce:
Sometime in the 1990s, a trend started in Mexico, in which fruits and snacks were dressed with chamoy, and topped with somewhat “crazy” (“loca”) combinations of chili powder, candies, hot sauces, and all sorts of other various ingredients. For this reason, they were called “locos” – “crazy”; for example, the mini watermelon bowl above, could be supplemented with carrot sticks, sprinkled with salt and lime juice, and finished with a generous splash of chamoy, to become a “mini sandía loca” – “mini crazy watermelon”:
My overgrown cucumber was perfect to prepare several portions of “pepino loco” – “crazy cucumber.” For this snack, a large cucumber is peeled, cut into sections and hollowed to form cups. The rim is coated with seasoned chile powder, usually a commercial blend, such as Tajín™ or Miguelito™, but may also be prepared at home with a mixture of roughly equal parts of cayenne pepper, salt, and citric acid. Then, the cups are filled with a salty snack, most frequently Japanese style peanuts (which are roasted peanuts coated with a thin and smooth layer flavoured with soy sauce), along with a mixture of lime juices, hot sauce, and chamoy.
Crazy Cucumber (Cups) – Pepinos locos (vasitos)
Ingredients (for 3-4 pieces)
1 large field cucumber, or an extra-large English cucumber
½ cup peanuts, such as Japanese style, or any other roasted peanuts
¼ cup chamoy sauce; try my homemade recipes, or store bought
Red hot sauce; such as Valentina™, Cholula™, Red Hot™, etc.
Seasoned chile powder; commercial such as Tajín™, Miguelito™, or try a mixture of equal parts of:
Dry red chile powder (cayenne, piquín, etc.)
Gather all the ingredients. I had my overgrown English cucumber, a package of Japanese style peanuts, homemade and commercial chamoy, Valentina™ sauce, and Tajín™ powder, along with the lime:
Wash cucumber, cut into sections, approximately 3 inches (7.5 cm) long, removing both ends. Peel each section, either completely, or leaving a few stripes of skin on, for contrast:
Using a paring knife, cut around the edge between the outer flesh and the seeds of one section, removing most of the centre, but leaving one end intact, to form a cup; repeat with the rest of the sections, and reserve prepared cups (photo below, left). In a small bowl, pour some seasoned chile powder, and in a second small bowl, mix chamoy with the juice of half a lime, and hot sauce, to taste (photo below, right):
Take one cucumber cup; dip the rim side in the sauce and lime mixture (photo below, left), then in the seasoned chile powder, tilting and turning to coat all around the rim (photo below, right):
Repeat with all the cups. Partially fill each cup with a few peanuts, then top with sauce, and continue layering until all cups are filled up, finishing with extra sauce, that may overflow and drip down the outside of the cups:
Serve with the rest of the lime on the side:
Although neither is indigenous to Mexico, both watermelon and cucumber have been staple foodstuffs in Mexican cuisine for centuries, brought to the American continent by European settlers as early as 1494, when Christopher Columbus introduced cucumber to Haiti. Watermelons are frequently represented in many forms of Mexican art, especially paintings; for example, Rufino Tamayo (August 25, 1899 – June 24, 1991), used the theme of watermelon still life as a way to methodically explore colour, line and composition, against the propagandistic and at times ribald art that, in his opinion, was being promoted in Mexico in the mid 20th century.
I am joining Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD) challenge for September 2, 2021.
I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #506, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.