I’ll be honest: in years past, Memorial Day has not had as much meaning for me. I knew what the holiday was about, of course – a day that historically has served as a moment for us to stop and honor and remember fallen soldiers. The day has progressed to be a day where we honor veterans, both those who have fallen in the line of duty and those who still serve, or have served and are now retired. But this day has a newness for me this year.
My immediate family is not in the military. My grandfathers served during World War II, but none of my siblings and neither of my parents were in the military. I have an aunt who is a civilian contractor, but that’s it. This year, however, I am more intimately acquainted with the military because my girlfriend has been in the Navy for 13 years.
I live in a Navy town, and I have for the past five years. Living here has made the military, and more specifically the Navy, a more real entity for me. The bases aren’t hidden away in the woods or along back roads; I see battleships any time I drive out of Norfolk. Once, when I was babysitting in Oceanview, the mother of the child I was watching saw a submarine surface out in the Chesapeake Bay; she could see it from the upstairs window of her beach cottage. It is a daily occurrence to see people in uniform.
But being with Amanda has made me notice these things more. I have slowly learned what the different uniforms look like, how to tell if the person wearing that uniform is an officer or an enlisted person. I notice these things more. And so while Memorial Day was never just a day to grill out or have a party, I notice its significance more this year. I have a different appreciation for it. It has new meaning for me because someone I love is in uniform everyday.
All that being said, there was a party. And I made drunken watermelon.
One of the really great things about my relationship is that Amanda is incredibly indulgent. So when I said I wanted to make drunken watermelon, but I didn’t know what kind of alcohol to soak the watermelon in, Amanda suggested we do a trial run watermelon, quartered, and soaked in four different alcohols, and then taste test it to determine which one to bring to the party we attended last night.
Obviously, this was a genius idea. I’ll be blogging tomorrow about the taste testing. For now, in the interest of posting this recipe for anyone who might need a last minute idea for a side dish to bring to a party tonight, I give you Amaretto Watermelon and Berries, the winning combination from our taste test.
Amaretto Watermelon and Berries
1 medium/large watermelon
1 tablespoon sugar
1 bottle (I used 425 mL) amaretto
1. Slice watermelon. I like to have slices with the rind still on because it makes for easier holding while eating. I quartered the watermelon lengthwise, and then sliced the quarters. If you want to get fancy or OCD, like I did, you can make sure you alternate rinds, creating a pleasing array of watermelon waves, which makes the slices easier to pick up.
2. Sprinkle mixed berries over the watermelon. Make sure you get some on top for presentation, and don’t worry if some drop through to the bottom: those will soak in the alcohol a little better.
3. Sprinkle a little bit of sugar over the whole thing. You don’t need much – watermelon is already sweet, and so are the berries – but a touch of sugar brings out some of the natural juices and amps up the amaretto flavor.
4. Douse the whole thing with amaretto, making sure to get an even pour over all the slices.
If you want to baste, you could use a turkey baster to re-coat the watermelon every hour or so. I left mine alone and let it soak in the fridge for about five hours before the party. Next time, I’ll do it the night before so it can get good and drunk overnight.
Lessons learned: if you’re taking this dish to a party where there will be children, make sure you put a very big, clear note on the dish that says the watermelon has been spiked. What looks like a kid-friendly dish is actually soaked in alcohol. You may also want to make a kids-only platter with virgin fruit.
This dish is fun for dessert, as a side dish, or even an appetizer at a party. It’s not quite enough alcohol to get blasted on, but even so, make sure you enjoy your watermelon responsibly and designate a sober driver for your Memorial Day festivities.