Summer Refresher: Aqua Fresca

July 5, 2010

It’s sizzling over here, folks. Hotter than the devil’s butt. As we plow our way through popsicles and lemonade, seeking the shade, I am grateful for just one thing: At least I am not pregnant.

My first summer job as a teenager was manning the cash register at my dad’s gas station. That’s right, readers–I was the girl in the stylish red smock, ringing up cigarettes and cleaning congealed nacho scuzz off formica counters. The glamour.

The manager of the gas station was a woman named Donna, and she was hugely pregnant that summer. Poor Donna was a miserable creature that July and August; her legs blew up like kielbasas and she lumbered around, hands on her sweaty belly, cursing the heat. I tiptoed around her, fearing her wrath. There’s nothing quite so mercurial as a suffering, sweltering breeder, let me tell you.

I was lucky enough to be hugely pregnant, both times, in the fall/winter, and while I didn’t plan things that way, I was very grateful. The only hardship I suffered in the summer was an uncontrollable, insatiable craving for watermelon. I swear, I half expected the girls to pop out of the womb sporting green skin and seeds. I ate at least one of those seedless Dulcinea watermelons a day. My husband was kind of horrified. He’d watch me unload heavy grocery bags, lining the countertops with melon after melon.

“Jesus,” he’d say, shaking his head. “Don’t you want to eat anything else?”

I really didn’t. Watermelon was my summertime crack snack, and I didn’t care how revolting he thought it was.

Recently, I had a friend up for lunch who is not hugely pregnant, but pregnant all the same. The afternoon was warm and since my dear friend couldn’t sip an icy rose with me, I made up a batch of aqua fresca.

I made watermelon aqua fresca (Mexican melon water) last summer, and boy, is it refreshing. Those people in Mexico sure know how to beat the heat; I can’t think of anything that would quench a thirst faster.

Just to mix things up, I used honeydew in this batch (cantaloupe and guava are also used quite frequently, but my friend is a cantaloupe-hater). Verdict: delicious! Light and refreshing and oh-so-good on a hot day. As she left, she requested recipes for both versions and said, “I’m going to be making buckets of this stuff all summer.”

Call me the Melon Pimp.

Melon Aqua Fresca

serves about 4

2 honeydew melons, skinned, seeded and cut into cubes

3 cups water

1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

5 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

Lime slices and mint sprigs, for garnish

Puree all ingredients in a blender until well combined. Pour into a fine-mesh sieve set over a pitcher, pressing down to extract all of the liquid. Chill. Stir and serve over ice. Garnish with lime and mint, if desired.

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