Despite myself, I often chuckle away when carting a watermelon around the local supermarket. To a local tarifeño this must appear strange, as the anecdote ‘I carried a watermelon’ has little meaning to them, coming from the American classic Dirty Dancing.

As I have mentioned, last summer was spent with Gala (no melon pun intended!) in Tarifa, the southern-most town in Spain, to which we have returned for the summer season before departing on our food tour. Upon arriving in this Andalucían kite surfing spot first time round, we decided that we were rather peckish. Keen to fully immerse ourselves in to the local culture, we decided to avoid touristy restaurants and set off to the nearby supermarket to buy our Spanish-style lunch. Though blend in we did not… In fact we caused quite a scene, screaming out the fact that we were guirris (local word for ‘foreigner’). In Spanish supermarkets, they have a particular system for weighing and pricing their fruit and veg. We, Brits abroad, were not aware of this and when it came to the check out we were sent back to weigh the melon, dropping it on the way and holding up the queue. So much of a kafuffle we caused that later on that week we met some locals who greeted us with “Oh, you’re the girls with the watermelon!”

To further highlight the fact that we were the new girls in town, we decided we would like to enjoy our watermelon on the beach. From experience and now as seasoned tarifeñas, we know that this is a BIG no no! Nicknamed ‘el pueblo del viento’ (town of the wind) and thus infamous for its strong gusts, Tarifa’s beaches are not the ideal location to eat your watermelon, for which the Spanish translation is sandía… and sandy it was! Our harmonious idea of munching on juicy watermelon on a sunny beach was replaced by the harsh reality of two girls being whipped by sand, hair blowing everywhere, and crunching on gritty watermelon. Delightful!

So, some friendly advice to English picnickers: quaint may be the idea of transporting this  ritual to the sun, sea and sand; but it is not nearly as easy as it looks. Sandy fruit, sweaty meat, …. NOT ideal!

Though I do recommend the watermelons here: very juicy and the perfect accompaniment to the hot sun. Locals sell them from vans and from every street corner. The owner of this van was extremely proud that I took a photo of his prized possessions!

Watermelons being sold out of a roadside van

Watch out Tarifa, the girris have landed, and they’re here to stay (for now)!

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