My dad's food preparation talents were practically nonexistent, but he liked to be the one to cut the watermelons. There's such anticipation, wanting to see if it is deep red inside or if it was pulled before it was ripe. Did we interpret the “thump” correctly as we pulled it from the vine or chose it from the vendor's pile? A significant pop when the knife sinks in is a pretty good indicator that the melon is a good one.
For my dad, there was no way to cut open a watermelon except length wise. This enabled him to cut a long, thin slice that could easily be eaten without utensils. I prefer to cut it in half around the middle. Then wedges can be carved to suit the size of one's appetite. If we were at home, my mom used the point of a small paring knife to flip out the seeds and cut a bite that she picked up with her fingers.
Speaking of seeds, I dig out seeds from a spot big enough for a bite and eat it while I'm working on another spot. I've watched other persons remove all seeds that were visible before they began to eat.
Watermelons with few or insignificant seeds that have now been developed eliminate choices of how or when to remove the seeds. However, part of the fun of eating watermelon disappeared with the seeds. Measuring the distance we could spit a seed across the backyard was family fun competition and possibly was practice for a serious contest at the county fair.
If we cut a watermelon that was exceptionally good, we saved the seeds for planting next year. We spread them on a square of cloth torn from an old sheet to dry because they would stick to paper and we couldn't get them off.
Salt or no salt. Mealy or still firm. Room temperature, ice cold from the refrigerator, cooled moderately in a tub of water drawn from the well, or laid in the spring. Stop eating when the succulent bites are pink instead of red, or continue to capture juice in hollowed-out dents in the green layer next to the rind. All these preferences exist along with the different techniques for cutting and eating.
Watermelon was never served as dessert at our house. We ate watermelon between meals when we had an appetite and digestive room for a big piece. My dad would have scoffed at a tiny fruit cup by his plate, and he would have deplored melon balls because good corner bites were bound to have been wasted as the round portions were scooped out.