Friday, August 22, 2008

Simple Melon

As a boy, my friends said I had "simple pleasures." They said "simple pleasures" this, when I appreciated a stone, and "simple pleasures" that, when I puzzled over a popcorn kernel. What they really meant (and what I really understood) was that I was a "simpleton," an idiot who drooled over rain drops, a fool. Well, since then I've learned to be strong about my simple pleasures, but back then I would retort (if I could manage to gain the floor at all), "what is so simple about a cantaloupe?" Foolish boy! A cantaloupe is the simplest thing of all. You put the seed in the ground and several months later you get a gorgeous fruit. The one pictured here is from a melon patch in Whatley, Massachusetts. I picked it myself and brought it home.

Generally, I hate cantaloupe. They have a stink that puts me off. I can't really explain it; they just repulse me, but this cantaloupe won me over. I could smell it from several feet away. When I brought it home, it's fragrance filled my kitchen. How could I resist it? I couldn't.

This is what I ultimately decided to do with my sweet baby. It just so happens that the co-op is on my way home from the melon patch, so I decided to splurge on some prosciutto and a melon baller.

OK, back to simple pleasures. This salad is exactly what you see. I did not invent this pairing. Prosciutto and cantaloupe is a classic, and I tend to trust the classics. A recipe does not survive so long with little or no merit. Quite the contrary. A recipe survives because of some essential "rightness." Let me tell you, I had never eaten prosciutto and cantaloupe before, but I was an instant convert. The musky sweetness of the cantaloupe is perfectly balanced by the delicate, airy fattiness of the ham. The sprig of parsley is only a bonus. It cleans the palate in the end.

Simple pleasure, you say? Of course it is! The only simpler pleasure was smelling the melon as I carried it on my shoulder.

Possible ideas:

I've become interested in dessert ravioli. A simple addition of some sweet elements to your pasta dough (and even those can be forgone), and a whole new world is presented to you. Here's what I'm thinking:

Dessert ravioli stuffed with a spiced cantaloupe filling (chili powder, nutmeg, maybe a touch of ricotta).

Then, fry the ravioli until the dough bubbles and serve with ice cream. For some reason, green tea ice cream sounds like an appropriate pairing right now, but I could be way off. For all I know, it could be chocolate. Anyway, ciao

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