CantaloupePosted: April 23, 2012
I have no doubt that my grandmother never tasted prosciutto. It’s too expensive, that uber-salty cured Italian ham; the kind that comes sliced so thin you can see through each papery sliver. Utterly impractical, that stuff. And besides which, it probably wasn’t even available in the rural area where she was born and lived her whole life. At least, it wouldn’t have been available when she was young enough to be making those Decisions About What She Liked. So she wouldn’t have seen it then, and probably would never have thought to try it when she was older.
She certainly wouldn’t have done something as bizarre and unconscionable as wrapping prosciutto around a slice of melon. Meat doesn’t go with fruit. Salty doesn’t go with sweet. She would have looked at it quizzically, with her lip curled in a half-sneer as though she had smelled something not-quite-right.
The thing is, though; I’m almost sure she would have liked prosciutto and melon. I know this because I watched her eat a slice of cantaloupe many, many summer mornings. She would cut herself a generous quarter with the big kitchen knife–no reason to be skimpy with fruit grown in her own garden, after all–place it on her plate, and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper before eating it with a spoon.
I tried it that way, but still preferred mine plain then.
I think of her now, every time I have cantaloupe. I cut it into chunks, that fruit the color of a summer sunset on her farm; place a selection of them into a bowl, and liberally grate pink Himalayan sea salt over top. I think of her whistling through her teeth and bustling around her kitchen, her daily lunch of a lettuce-and-tomato salad with creamy French dressing. I think of the way she laughed, her eyes sparkling madly even though the skin around them had long gone crepey. She would have liked prosciutto, my grandmother.