Italian prosciutto and cantaloupe melon: a favourite at our place!
We’ve just been away for nearly a month on holiday in California, Utah and Arizona. Fabulous, fabulous places! It was wonderful to get back to my old stomping grounds for the first time in nearly 10 years and catch up with long-lost friends, and places I love! There will be more about the trip in future posts after I get over the jet-lag (and that of the kids goes away too……let’s just say it was a very short night last night). When we arrived back home a couple of days ago, I wanted something simple to make to satisfy the weird feeling of “jet-lag eating” for when it’s dinnertime, but your stomach wants breakfast, and here it is: a very typical first course in Italy, prosciutto e melone! Prosciutto e melone is the perfect Summer food, as there’s no cooking needed, it takes hardly any time to prepare, but it’s very tasty. When melons are in season, I would have to put prosciutto e melone up there as one of my favourite first courses. It can also be eaten as a main course if it’s just too hot to eat anything else during the Summer months.
How to choose a good melon
Prosciutto e melone is a first course that you find on many restaurant menus in Italy. I always hesitate to get it in a restaurant as it is so easy to prepare, though maybe I’m wrong to not to order it. I imagine the chefs in the restaurants are much more knowledgeable than I am on how to choose a good melon. I know the theory, but still seem to occasionally get tasteless melons, or over-ripe ones. You are meant to look at the veining on the outside of the melon. Apparently, the more “veins” there are, the higher the sugar content is. Also, the weight of the melon is meant to be important. As I’m not sure how heavy a “bad” melon is, I find this a difficult one to judge. There’s also the “sniff test” where you’re meant to smell the melon at the base. The thing is, I’m not sure what I’m meant to smell. The only thing I know is that if there’s a strong sweet smell, it’s over-ripe and best left on the shelf. If there’s a smell of dirty socks, you had better put it back straight away. I don’t even want to think about where it’s been!
Hitting the melon jackpot
Luckily this time I hit the melon jackpot and was rewarded with a sweet, juicy rock-melon that complimented the saltiness of the prosciutto perfectly. Though, that’s from no real skill on my part…..at this time of the year, almost all the melons are good. They are grown about an hour or so from where we live, so I can even feel virtuous and ecological about eating local seasonal produce, and all that feel-good “Save the Earth” stuff!
Travel photo of the week
Since just I wrote this post after getting back from the States, here’s a photo from that area. This was taken in Bryce Canyon. The canyon isn’t actually a canyon, but is a mesa (a big hunk of rock rising up out of the ground). The weathering of the rocks over millions of years has carved out these incredible formations along one side of the mesa. You can hike down into them and be surrounded by them (and by hungry squirrels). It’s a place I will never tire of visiting.
By Lisa Watson
Prosciutto and melon
- 1 large Rock melon (cantaloupe) or two small
- 150 -200 g Prosciutto depending how much you like prosciutto
- Cut the melon in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
- Cut the melon into quarters or eighths, depending on the size of it.
- Cut off the skin.
- Pile the prosciutto on top.
- That’s it! Eat and enjoy the salty/sweet combination!