August 21, 2004
Picking A Perfect Melon

We made our weekly pilgrimage to the farmer's market this morning. The market has a wonderful set-up underneath an overpass next to the railroad tracks. As we hopped out of the truck, a train blew through, making me wish I had ear-plugs and a camera.

Tomatoes are winding down this time of year, but the melons are in fine form. I didn't like melon as a child, but as my tastes changed, I learned to eat honeydew and cantaloupe. My father was a cantaloupe connoisseur. He could thump a melon and check it's navel to determine it's ripeness and freshness. But his true gift was determining by appearance whether a melon would taste good. I have to take a more visceral approach by smelling it. If it smells like a pumpkin, it will taste like a pumpkin.

No amount of salt will save it. That's right, salt. Dad used to salt his melons, a taste I never acquired. He also ate raw potatoes and boiled peanuts.

This week's melon tastes pretty good, but last week's was better. My tendency, according to my dad, is to pick melons that were on their way out--too ripe and beginning to turn to alcohol. I wish I had learned his secret to choosing the perfect melon, but I guess, some things are just a gift.

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