It is June now and I’ve already cut into my first good melons of the year. Mmmm.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned about melon since living in Italy: you don’t know if you’ve got an extra special one until you get it home and open it up. An expert like the greengrocer can usually be relied upon to pick you a good one, or to warn you off if the ones he’s got that particular day aren’t worthwhile (and only then if you have taken the time to cultivate a good relationship with him) but you won’t really know how good it is until you get it home and open it up.
In my experience, the very best melons, the most memorable, the most succulent, the ones that almost knock you out with their sweet fragrance when you first split them in two and the halves roll away from your knife to reveal a pulp so perfect, so tender, yet firm, and juicy, but not watery, with the fresh, syrupy taste of summer, rarely are they the ones you go searching for the day when you need a special something, say you have guests.
The truly special melon is the accidental melon. The impulse buy. The one you have the greengrocer add to your bag at the last minute, either because he insists, or just because you see it there and it kind of calls to you. The truly special melon finds its way to you on its own. And it surprises you with what it hides inside. If you go looking for it, you might find a good one, but not the kind I mean.
When we were at the shop on Friday, I asked for two. And our greengrocer selected three, then cut one open for us to try in the shop right then and there, to make sure that the batch he had in the window that day were up to par. Seven did the honors. He scarfed down a wedge, deemed it acceptable, and was given another wedge to polish off while I finished the shopping.
They were pretty good, but we haven’t made it home yet with that first unforgettably luscious one. That’s okay, though, because it’s still early in the season and besides, the anticipation is almost as delicious.