Saturday, August 4, 2007

a slice of cantaloupe on a summer day

It's easy to eat healthier this time of year, what with all the local fruits and vegetables available at the grocery store. I had a taste for melon today, so while we were shopping, I picked out a cantaloupe. I'm not very good at picking out cantaloupes. I know that there should not be any obvious bruises and that the melon should be heavy for its size and have a nice hollow sound when you thump it. They all sound hollow. I always sniff the blossom end for a nice cantaloup-y fragrance, but I never smell anything. I do my best.

Since just the two of us are at home now, it will be hard to eat the cantaloupe while it is still fresh. I cut it in two and wrapped half of it to store in the basement fridge. I usually cut the other half into quarters, then cut the skin off so that I have ready-to-eat slices. It's convenient that way, but I think the slices get slimy faster, so I decided to leave the skin on each quarter. The cantaloupe had an appealing, fresh smell and I thought to eat a piece right then. I spooned out a bite and tasted it. Melon-y and delicious. But, something was missing. I lightly sprinkled salt across the slice and tasted it again. Perfect.

As I do every time I eat a cantaloupe, I thought of my Grandpa Bulat. I thought of a summer day when I was a small child at my grandparent's house. My grandpa had come in the house from working outside (he was always working outside) and my grandma handed him a bowl with a freshly-sliced section of cantaloupe in it. He sat down next to me at the kitchen table, lightly salted the cantaloupe, dug his spoon into it, and ate it with the greatest satisfaction and relish. He was not making a show of it for me - he was not that kind of grandpa. He was enjoying his food - every bite of it. I watched him as he ate, and I knew nothing had ever looked more delicious than that melon as my grandfather ate it.

My mother couldn't understand why, for years after that, I insisted on salting my cantaloupe before I would eat it. "It doesn't need salt," she would say, "it's fine the way it is." "But this is how Grandpa Bulat eats it," was always my reply. I always remember my grandpa when I eat cantaloupe, and nothing would make me happier than for you to remember him, too.


anne mancine said...

My first title for this post was "do this in memory of him", but it didn't seem to set the right tone...

Bryan said...

My mom and her family salt canteloupe. I used to salt watermelon as a kid, until I discovered that it was actually much better with a little sugar. Most people I tell that to reel back in horror, thinking it would be overpowerfully sweet, but most of the watermelon I eat has hardly any flavor at all, so it needs something. And we're not talking about dumping a whole teaspon on there; just a light dusting is fine.

anne mancine said...

Are they Hungarian? ;D

My maternal grandparents were Hungarian immigrants with thick eastern European accents.

I have never heard of sugar on a watermelon, and, no, it doesn't sound very appealing.