Syrian Cheese and Watermelon


The Kitchen Madonna’s watermelon salad recipes made me remember this from my childhood:

Every summer there would be a Big Family Picnic at the Harrington house. Of course, everyone would bring their special favorites and signature dishes. Nanny would bring potato salad, Catherine would bring macaroni salad with tuna, Leo would bring some beefsteak–to be sauteed in butter and served on slices of bread, and there were plenty of other picnic favorites as well. There was always a big watermelon on ice, waiting for someone to slice it open after dinner–and we kids would line up for our juicy, sweet slices of melon.

A new favorite was introduced into the mix when my aunt Eileen married a guy whose parents were born in Syria. Louie brought Syrian “string cheese” to the picnic. Some of my cousins had never seen Syrian cheese before the picnic, and they weren’t sure what to make of it.

“How do you eat this?” they asked Louie, who was shredding the cheese into a big bowl.

“Go get a slice of watermelon,” he instructed them. After they’d done that, he said, “Now poke out all the pits with your finger. See how that leaves holes in the watermelon? Now stick these shreds of cheese in the holes, and just eat it.”

He was teasing them, but they had no clue. All of us kids tried it. All of us loved it! The salty cheese, the sweet watermelon–they were perfect together.

And I’m sure you’ve all guessed now what will be on my shopping list for next week. (I can’t get Syrian cheese around here, but Armenian cheese is pretty close and readily available).

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