RICHARD & NERI ASK: My wife and I were eating watermelon slices and had an out of the blue question that we thought to research. We were wondering how humans came to know about the watermelon fruit. May sound silly, but how did we even know that watermelons were edible (and extremely delicious)? My wife thinks that we came to know about these refreshing fruits by looking at animals eat it. Is this right?
I like this question, Richard and Neri, because it forces me to travel back into time to imagine what life was like 50,000 years ago — before the automobile, before reality TV and before 4G wireless networks.
This is just my own non-expert guess, but I suppose much of the prehistoric culinary decisions — much like our modern dining choices — came down to simple trial and error. Here’s how a typical grocery-shopping conversation between two Neanderthal hunter-gatherers might have gone:
CAVEMAN #1: “Unngh! That plant with purple pointed leaves bad!”
CAVEMAN #2: “For sure. Remember what happen when Grog ate it last Thursday? He no feel so good after.”
CAVEMAN #1: “Hmmmm, yes. When he feel better, we make him eat that round green thing with red inside. I call it, water melon.”
CAVEMAN #2: “Good idea. Grog eat anything! But you need to work on name of melon. Something more creative.”
CAVEMAN #1: “Okay. That name will do for now. Hey, you want to go throw rocks at the tiger with big pointy teeth?”
At least that’s how I imagine the discussion went between our prehistoric counterparts. They were smarter than we give them credit for, because they at least relied on brave diners like Grog to test different foods beforehand (even if they also threw rocks at Saber-Toothed Tigers).
We still use the same methods today. Like last week, when I created a triple bacon, triple cheese pizza. It tasted good, but, like Grog, I no feel so good after.
UP NEXT: A FESTIVE GIFT FOR WATERMELON LOVERS