cantaloupe, cantaloupe, cantaloupe
Cantaloupe. Your name is beautiful, your color gorgeous - but alas, I forget you every year. Each winter, I pine for the stonefruits: oh those peaches. Those nectarines! I count down the days until they are mine. But cantaloupe: you are never there. I don't dream of you, you never cross my mind.
And yet — you appear, a surprise always, and we bring you home and we slice you up and suddenly I remember. Childhood summers by the circus-like round pool, sticky juice dripping on bare feet. Sunblock, chlorine, the remains of an otterpop. You smell like flowers and swimmie floaters.
And left at that, you are nostalgia. But: we cannot always live in the past. And today there is no pool in sight, only a poor little air conditioner huffing and puffing in its window spot. So we dress you up, at least just a little, and find you've grown up into something rather nice.
Cantaloupe & Prosciutto
A classic Italian dish, as simple as they come.
Controversial: slice your cantaloupe as you like. Traditionally, I'm told, you should make smiley face slices, then carefully slice around the bottom to remove the skin; place cantaloupe back in the skin like a jacket; then make vertical cuts so you end up withe bite-sized pieces, still sitting nicely upright. Delicately drape proscuitto (unclear how one does this: I always end up with bunchy bits and fatty bits, but luckily they're all delicious). Eat, preferably with prosecco.
Spiced Cantaloupe, vaguely Mexican style
Slice your cantaloupe any which way, preferably on the skin. Sprinkle with salt and ancho pepper, then drizzle with lime. Eat, preferably with mezcal.
Chill cantaloupe until you're ready to eat it, ideally just a few hours so it doesn't lose flavor. With the "dots" as north and south poles, slice it horizontally in half, then scoop out the seedy bits with a spoon. Chop into chunks, remove peel, and then dice into small bits if you're using a handblender, and into whatever size makes sense if you're one of those lucky souls with a juicer.
Blend or juice the fruit, then strain it (note: this is worth doing; a chunky texture is surprisingly offputting here, who knew.) Add: tequila, lime juice, and lime zest. Note that the cantaloupe is surprisingly absorbent: it will effectively drink up (pun intended) any liquor you feed it, leaving you with a vaguely buzzing juice. This is not a bad thing, just proceed with care (or toss in a few extra shots.)