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  1. Mmmm... My Summer of Melon, Mustard & Marshmallows


    While researching monthly food holidays so I could assign features for the Diet-to-Go August newsletter, I found myself mentally backsliding to a long-ago time of innocence and excitement - a time of great joy over the simple pleasures derived from my favorite summertime foods.

    The research definitely fueled my look back to those hot summer days that never seemed to end and the cool treats that offered comfort from both the heat and life's little problems. Yes, problems were little back then - even if they seemed huge to a child who couldn't imagine what life had in store!

    But I think my August 1 birthday played a role as well. I needed a few fond memories of childhood to help me mark reaching the big 5-0...

    Here are the specific food holidays that made me smile and reminisce:

     

    August 3rd: National Watermelon Day
    August 5th: National Mustard Day
    August 30th: National Toasted Marshmallow Day

     

    Who doesn't LOVE watermelon? I vividly recall sitting on the front porch of my tiny family home, two hands holding a large slice of fresh-picked watermelon. The fruit was deep red and super juicy - and filled with seeds that needed spitting every few seconds.

    I knew going in that my face would be a mess by the time I'd finished my slice, but it never mattered. That's what the back of your forearm was for - juice wiping!

    FUN FACTS: Watermelon is actually a vegetable and not a fruit. It is also related to the pumpkin, cucumber and the squash. Watermelon consists of 92% water and 8% sugar.

     

    You're probably wondering why mustard holds a special place in my heart. Well, I was a sort of rebel as child... a kid who preferred mustard over ketchup on his hot dogs and hamburgers. No summertime cookout was complete without grilled burgers and dogs. There had to be that bright yellow container of French's Mustard on hand. A pile of sliced raw onion rounded out the perfect cookout for me!

    FUN FACTS: The name, mustard, comes from the Latin words "mustum ardens" which means "burning wine" and refers to the flavor created by the spicy heat of the crushed mustard seeds mixed with the juice of unfermented wine grapes.

     

    Want s'more memories of my food-fueled youth? OK, how about the perfectly toasted marshmallow coated in a crunchy light brown skin that didn't taste like charcoal? Mmmm... tastes like heaven. Well, until that first nibble unleashed the toasted marshmallow's gooey lava-like innards - and immediately triggered a wild hand-waving maneuver as I vainly tried to put out the fire in my mouth!

    I know many of you have a soft spot for those chocolate-marshmallow-graham cracker concoctions called s'mores. But I preferred my toasted marshmallows as is... impaled on the end of a pointed stick I had picked up off the ground minutes earlier. Germs? What germs?

    While watermelon pulp and juice washed away easily, not so the mighty marshmallow. No matter how careful you were you inevitably ended up wearing some of the glue-like gunk on your face and in your hair. Then, at the end of a long summer's day, the bright white had transformed into an ugly looking brown or gray mess that needed to be scraped and wash-clothed away by mom.

    FUN FACTS: Americans buy 90 million pounds of marshmallows annually - that's about the weight of 1,286 gray whales. And each summer more than half of all marshmallows sold are toasted over a fire.

    I hope my look back at food and fun sparked a few fond memories for you as well. If so, please share them with us at the DiettoGo.com community forum.

    John McGran has been a writer/editor for about as long as he's been battling his weight. During his 25 year-career, John has written for several newspapers, tabloids and Web sites. You may recognize his name and style from the seven years he spent writing a Worst of the Worst Foods column as Mr. Bad Food. If you have any topics you'd like John to tackle, feel free to write him at nargcm@aol.com

    Author: John McGran

    Archived posts 2009
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