Watermelon—sweet, juicy, veggie-fruit, widely believed to be first harvested some 5,000 years ago in Egypt—has become a summer staple in Pakistan.
Though it is still an affordable family feast yet it could not attain that much admiration and significance it earns in some other countries such as the United States and Japan.
It is Oklahoma’s official state vegetable, whereas, Americans every year on August 3 celebrate as National Watermelon Day, marked as a holiday festivity.
To give greater recognition to the veggie-fruit, Japan has dedicate an entire day to it known as World Watermelon Day marked on July 27.
Japanese have another hallmark achievement of developing square watermelons to easily shelve them in refrigerators and racks.
Declared as a vegetable-fruit, watermelon has another distinctive feature as it can be cooked as a curry in the traditional cooking vessel.
“It would be funny experience to cook this item in a pip-kin on fire with added hot Asian spices, not sure what will be an outcome but it will be a fun for the eaters,” remarked Chief Chef Shahid Khan when asked did he ever cook watermelon.
He termed it impractical to treat it like a vegetable as it is quite ‘watery’ and ‘sweet’ in nature.
Agriculture expert and Director Farms Planning at National Agricultural Research Centre Shamimul Sibtain said that the watermelon plant’s drought-tolerant ability ensures its maximum growth rate as it loves the heat, and needs a long and warm growing season of at least 70 to 85 days.
He shared that the country’s most tasty variety is produced in Thal’s hot and sandy soil where daytime temperature touches 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
This veggie-fruit, he said, not only endures hot and humid climate but also drags and soaks over 92% of water.
Labelled as ‘fruit of angels’ by popular author Mark Twain, watermelon’s different varieties across the globe have some very fascinating names reflecting public infatuation with it: Queen of Hearts, King of Hearts, Millionaire, Crimson, Trio, Nova, Desert King, Tendergold, Yellow Baby, Yellow Doll and Black Diamond.
Imrozia Waheed, School Health and Nutrition Supervisor, sharing some nutritionist values of this summer specialty, said it contains rich vitamins minerals, potassium, magnesium and anti-oxidants.
Vitamin deficiency was the biggest challenge for children and women of the third world today and World Health Organization was combating to overcome it. She said this fruit in our country is in abundance and an effective natural food to fight this insufficiency in the human body.
She said it was a season’s blessing when sweating dehydrates the body and it was a great anti-dehydrating agent.
Imrozia said scientists with over the years research managed to discover that this magical diet for being rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories was a divine sanction for cardiovascular health.
The medical scientists also discovered that watermelon was among the best dietary sources of lycopene, an antioxidant linked to both the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
An 85-year old practicing doctor Ghulam Hussain said it would be quite unbelievably interesting for our younger generations born after 80s that the fruit remained a must item in annual urs and lok melas (religious and cultural festivals) celebrated across the country.
No devotee or visitor was supposed to return home without a melon in his/her hands, he added.