The Hungarian National Melon

Hungary is watermelon country. It's the height of the season and fruit stands have popped up everywhere. We've stopped at a few of them, both out in the puszta and in Budapest, and eaten some of the best and ripest melons of our lives.
The Hungarian summers are warm, sunny and dry, which is perfect for the fruit. Watermelons are a great, early season cash-crop for the farms along the back roads, where they are sold out of trucks or from big bins. Pink umbrellas act as a beckoning sign on the straight roads, set up at pull offs and visible from a ways off.
From this woman, we actually bought a honeydew, which was so ripe that it gave our car a rotting, damp smell. It was perfect and delicious when we opened it.
Watermelon production has been in progress here since the middle ages, when 13th century moors brought seeds up from southern Africa. It's become one of the major food exports of Hungary, along with peppers, paprika, sunflower products and corn - we saw a sudden boom of big, green Hungarian melons in the Czech and Slovak republics as the spring began to heat up.
Here, at a semi-permanent shop, separated from the road by a deep and fetid gutter, we bought our first slice of melon. Also available: honeydew, cantaloup, raspberries and cherries. Cherries - perhaps even more popular at the moment - have a more prominent place in the fruit pastries and pies of the young summer, but that may be because watermelon is difficult to do anything with except eat plain.
The problem with watermelons, of course, is that they are difficult to eat - actually, the thing is, they are difficult to eat politely in public. They make a better rural food, where there is space to spit out the seeds and sticky hands are less problematic. Also, even a quarter of one melon is difficult for two people to consume.
A related non-sequitor: one night, when we were sleeping in a little campground bungalow, someone or something stole an eighth of a sizable watermelon from our porch. It was disappointing to wake up and find that our breakfast was gone, but the theft injected a bit of intrigue into the morning, so it was fine.
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