June 28th, 2008

The joys of cantaloupe

I was in New York City the other day and bought a cantaloupe from a small grocery store that was the best one I’ve ever eaten in my life.

I’m somewhat of a cantaloupe connoisseur, so that’s saying quite a lot. The melon is one of the staples of my diet, and I’m an expert on picking them, so I know that summer always features the tastiest ones. But 2008 seems to be some sort of vintage year for them, because when I got back home and bought another at my local grocery store, it was pretty close in taste to that superlative NY one.

Ah, cantaloupe, the world’s best food. Lest you think me mad to say so (or perhaps you think me mad for some other reason), let me remind you of how unbelievably good they taste and how astoundingly healthful they are. What a combination.

Think about it. If cantaloupe—not the hard and somewhat tasteless ones of winter, but the luscious ones of summer—was as bad for you as ice cream is supposed to be, you’d crave it just as much. Maybe more. If it were forbidden fruit (pun intended), it would be one of the world’s guiltiest and most difficult-to-resist pleasures.

12 Responses to “The joys of cantaloupe”

  1. jon baker Says:

    They are good. The related “mush melons” with their green but sweet fruit is my favorite, though.

  2. vanderleun Says:

    Melonhead = Mushhead.

    Get a steak. Get a big potato with half a pound of butter.

    Grab a brandy and kick back with a big cigar.

    Now that some FINE EATIN’!

  3. Gringo Says:

    Yes, cantaloupes are the Tower of Pisa, are the Mona Lisa. Love them. Here is some doggerel from a cheap tie I bought some time back, as sung by a guitar-playing Mickey Mouse.

    The trouble is I have no kale
    My celery’s too small
    I artichoke her half to death
    And then perhaps she’d fall
    I’d give a lot if she could see
    But squash goes every hope
    She doesn’t carrot at all for me
    And so we cantaloupe

  4. cSimon Says:

    Cantaloupes are my absolutely favorite fruit bar none! When they are good, there is nothing like the sweetness that is not too sweet, and biting into the firm, juicy flesh just fills your mouth with flavor!

    Alas, I grew up with a Dad (whose parents had chi-chi fruit and vegetable store when he was little so he knew his fruits, and HATED all vegetables as a result!) who could pick the best cantaloupe amoung a pyramid of dozens and dozens. I, however, have almost no sense of smell (supposedly due to severe childhood allergies or something like that) and am lost when it comes to picking a really good one. I only know to press the one end to ensure ripeness, but it’s not enough.

    Ah, had I known, neo, that you were in NYC where I reside, I would have loved for you to pick some out for me — arranging some kind of secret drop, money for fruit, of course, to protect your anonymity!

    But I will venture forth to my nearest store upon your thought that this might indeed be a vintage year, and hope for good luck in the draw.

    Didn’t know that they were so healthful, too. Just love them because they are my absolute favorite favorite! Added fringe benefit!

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    cSimon: Well, my NYC cantaloupe connection was on 14th and 1st.

    And that link in the post has intructions for picking a good cantaloupe. Heaviness is really really important.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    vanderleun: Ah, but I always follow a good cantaloupe with a cigar chaser.

  7. expat Says:

    A town down the road a bit from my hometown is known for its cantaloupes. My dad would buy them at the roadside fruitstand by the peck. My mom peeled and seeded them and put the wedges in the fridge. It was heaven.

  8. Jim C. Says:

    The Cantaloupe
    by Ogden Nash

    One cantaloupe is ripe and lush,
    Another’s green, another’s mush.
    I’d buy a lot more cantaloupe
    If I possessed a fluoroscope.

  9. Ben-David Says:

    The move from New York to Israel was definitely a step up, melon-wise. We have the green Israeli melons, regular cantaloupes, and French Charantais melons for 8 month of the year – fresh off the vine, not picked a week ago in California.

    My favorite breakfast is have a melon filled with yogurt.

    Here in Israel slices of melon – especially watermelon – are often served with cubes of salty feta cheese. The salty enhances the sweet, and vice-versa.

  10. Ben-David Says:

    Sorry – “half a melon”, not “have a melon”. Talk about a Freudian slip – I am getting hungry!

  11. cSimon Says:

    Neo – Thanks for the tip. I had read the link you provided. Found it really interesting.

  12. Donna B. Says:

    After reading this the first time, I told my husband who was on his way to buy bananas to please get a cantaloupe too.

    He brought back three, and I have rediscovered a joy from childhood. How could I have forgotten?

    Thank you!

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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