[Sca-cooks] Newbie Question about Watermelon

Gretchen Beck grm at andrew.cmu.edu
Thu Aug 2 11:31:25 PDT 2007

--On Thursday, August 02, 2007 12:57 PM -0500 Liz Wilson 
<ewilson618 at tx.rr.com> wrote:

> I am new to the SCA and read a great but fairly general article for
> beginners that broke fruits and vegetables down into New World and Old
> World foods, but I didn't see watermelon on the list.  The article
> indicated that cantalope (musk melons) and honeydew were Old World.  This
> article was from the SCA websites.  Does anyone know the status and/or
> history of  watermelon, or how it would have been served?  I am assuming
> that it was seasonable and was probably limited to warmer climates.
> Cristiana

Hi Cristiana,

Britannica Online says :
(Citrullus lanatus, formerly C. vulgaris), succulent fruit of the gourd 
family (Cucurbitaceae), native to tropical Africa, but under cultivation on 
every continent except Antarctica.

The OED lists the term "water million" (water-melon) in 1615, and gives the 
French term as melon d'eau.

The Domostroi translation contains a recipe for watermelon rind pickles, 
so, assuming the word is translated correctly (given the rest of the 
recipe, I suspect it is) this puts watermelons in Russia in that late 16th 
or early 17th C.

I think, but am not sure, that Castelvetro mentions watermelon in 1614 as a 
fruit eaten in Italy, but my copy is at home and I can't check it until 

For some truly amazing (modern) watermelon art, check this out:

Stephen's Florilegium has some good info on 

toodles, margaret

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