Often I sit back and dream of my childhood years; the years of innocence when nothing would go wrong, years full of summers, because summers like the ones we lived and live in Greece will never be found elsewhere.
Being in the food business for so many years as well as growing up with my beloved Grandfather who was a Chef, a very good Chef indeed, I find myself trying to bring back memories which I then connect to food according to the season and place I used to be. More than any other season, summer is the winner, by far. Blessed be the island of Samos, every year with yiayia and pappou, cousins (all 10+ of us), friends, beaches, fishing, flirting and… watermelons!!!
Oh my God those watermelons were so different from those you find today, or so they tasted. My pappou was waiting on his veranda looking out in the sea horizon for the “kaiki” (the boat that brought in the watermelons), and as soon as he spotted it he will wake us up (the boys) take us on his fishing boat to go to the harbor in Vathi where the watermelons were offloaded. There he bought a week’s supply (about 20), brought them back home and store them anywhere you can imagine.
After lunch and dinner, the watermelon was our dessert, often accompanied with feta cheese and sometimes with fresh bread. We will also take big slices of watermelon with us on the beach!!! Nothing better than sitting by the sea, with the salt water dried on your face and lips, and your teeth digging in a sweet, juicy and cool watermelon slice. Dark green skin, perfectly round, red juicy flesh with big black seeds. Big enough to collect and soak in salt water for about an hour and later roast dry to serve as a snack (pasatembo)
Sure there was other beautiful fruit, and still is, peaches, those famous black Samian figs, grapes, pears and the list is long, but the watermelon was the king of fruit. Maybe today we don’t get the same watermelons like the ones we used to have, at least not everywhere… they are mostly genetically modified so they don’t have so many seeds, they not so big, they even make them square so they can be packaged and transported easier.
Still, living away from my homeland, every time I have my slice of watermelon, I close my eyes and I travel back to Samos, with the crispy blue waters, the sounds of the waves, the warmth of the summer sun and the taste of watermelon in my mouth… heaven on earth!!! The ultimate comfort food.
I am a romantic Chef, thank you for reading my story; I am sure that every one of you has a similar story to share.