When I was little, we used to play “Just the Tip.”
Now before you go retroactively running off to call County Child Services on my Delicious Jackson family, I am talking about watermelon tips.
When I was little, we lived in Texas, and it just wasn’t summer if I warn’t (not a typo – that’s how we said it) double fisting green and white watermelon rinds with juice dripping from my chin, staining the front of my Gloria Vanderbilt polo(-style) shirt, and running down my forearm from wrist to elbow in sticky pink rivulets.
Ok. See, that actually never happened because I never ate entire slices of watermelon.
I had a terrible/brilliant habit of stealing the watermelon tips. You know what those are? When Mom cut the watermelon into those handy little triangles and arranged them in neat little rows on a tray, I would skulk over to the table, break off all the tips, transforming perfect pink polka-seed-dotted isosceles triangles into trapezoids.
Do not think that I did not actually call them “trapezoids.” I was a child genius who knew the Rule of 72 at the age of six.
The watermelon tips were the best part. They were the dead center of the watermelon, sweetest darkest pink, and never seemed to have any seeds in that two inch triangle. I think, however, that the tips just tasted that much better because it made everyone else so mad that I not only snapped them all off, but ran off with my mouth and fists full of all of them, laughing my tiny evil toddler head off.
Watermelon is a group fruit, or the more poetic, alliterative “family fruit” — those fruits that are large enough to serve all of it in one sitting to a group. In my adult life, group fruits phased out of my diet. It just didn’t make sense to buy an entire melon as a single person who lives alone, confining myself to an all melon diet for the three or fours days that it would last in the refrigerator. Watermelon, like the playful mischief it ignited in my childhood, was replaced by smart, single, seasonless “hand fruits.”
Looking back, though, group fruits were only the beginning of what turned out to be an almost complete replacement of all fresh fruit, betraying my sweet melonic past and my southern California present. On any given day of the week there are no fewer than five farmers markets set up around the greater Metropolitan Los Angeles area. I live less than three miles from one of the largest farmers’ markets, and a mere three blocks from a small but respectable one, complete with petting zoo, in my neighborhood. Even if I didn’t live in the Spot of Eternal Sunshine, technology and business have made it possible to have a red, ripe raspberry in the dead of winter. In Minneapolis.
And yet last year, I sacrificed fresh fruit for “love.”
It wasn’t a conscious decision, as if someone were holding a dull paring knife to my throat and forcing me to renounce all fresh fruit. He just told me, “Do not ever fucking bring fucking fresh fruit into this house again you filthy whore and by the way, yes, you do look fat in those jeans.”
Which is really my revisionist recollection of “I just don’t eat fruit.”
It wasn’t a point to argue, just a statement, but since half the fun of eating anything at all is sharing it with someone else, I replaced grapes, strawberries, Fuji apples with the canned pears, canned peaches, and fruity, fat-free, flavor-free frozen yogurt that he liked. Every once in a while, I indulged in mangoes – the dried ones he could buy at Costco.
After the breakup followed by two cold, dark, dreary seasons, I experienced something of a fruit renaissance this past spring and summer. I wasn’t afraid to buy blueberries just to eat straight from the basket. I tried to understand the appeal of peach fuzz. I remembered what it was like to squint and shiver from the sour skin of a plum, then sink into the sweetness of the flesh inside. I even learned how to eat fresh melon one day and turn the rest into sorbet.
And with a strange sense of nostalgia, I watched my niece hover over a bowl of hulled strawberries, shove as many as she could into her mouth, then run off laughing, leaving her younger brother with an empty bowl, utterly bewildered.
Charentais Melon (Cantaloupe) Sorbet
from Bouchon cookbook by Thomas Keller
Ingredients for Charentais (Cantaloupe) Melon Sorbet:
2½ pounds cleaned ripe Charentais melon or other melon, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks (about 4 cups)
½ cup sugar
Directions for Charentais (Cantaloupe) Melon Sorbet:
Place the cut melon on a paper towel-lined tray and let sit for 12 hours in the refrigerator to drain excess mosture.
Combine the melon and sugar in blender and blend to a puree.
Transfer to an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
More Cantaloupe Sorbet:
~ David Lebovitz’s recipe (which includes wine) on CupcakeMuffin
~ Dawn’s Recipes only uses 3 ingredients: cantaloupe, lime juice, and honey
~ Very basic with cantaloupe and simple syrup from Southern Living Magazine [July 2003]
~ Bon Appetit uses dessert wine and sugar, with a recipe for accompanying compote [August 1993]
~ Cook with Mary adds peppermint and vodka [August 2009]
~ Better Homes and Gardens adds orange zest and juice
~ Just melon and syrup by Jenni Britton at Food & Wine