I made the mistake of buying a so-so watermelon recently. It weighed over 8 pounds and looked decent on the outside but was flabby tasting on the inside. Watermelon, unlike other melons, does not ripen further after harvest. I was stuck with it. My husband wanted to throw it out and start over.
Wait, I said, let’s try some chile salt on the melon and see if we can perk up its taste. Fruit (melon, papaya, mango, pineapple, tart apple) and vegetables (jicama, cucumber) are often enjoyed with chile salt in tropical Asia; Latins share the same foodway. The result is a certain refreshing sweet heat on the palate.
I’d bought the following jars of chile salt. One is Vietnamese and the other is Latin (I got it while I was in Texas).
While both had salt, sugar, chile powder, and citric acid, the Trechas brand included colorant and preservative. I’d had the Viet one around for a year and it had changed color. However, the Viet one had more salt than sugar and a delicate tang and heat that sparked up the watermelon nicely. I liked its taste on its own. The Trechas was tangy more than anything else and lacked a pleasant flavor.