Posted on July 20th, 2012
I love melon. Watermelon, honeydew, casaba, horned, canary–I love them. I love their sticky, juicy goodness when it drips down my arms and off my elbows during a hot summer twilight. I enjoy a myriad of different ice cream toppings depending on my mood, but I find ripe juicy melon the hands-down-best complement to good vanilla ice cream. I believe that melon and prosciutto is a simple stroke of genius on the palette. I love melon flavored things from bubble gum to bubble tea. And while I generally avoid both sweet booze and sour mix, I have even enjoyed several Midori Sours in my time. Watermelon beer is my favorite beer of all time. Have I made it clear that I LOVE melon?
But, every rule has an exception and so it is here: I HATE cantaloupe. This has come as a surprise to almost everyone I have ever told. There is apparently a severe and widespread misconception that cantaloupe is Top Melon. I have heard it all. “It’s the sweetest!” “It’s so juicy and delicious!” “Cantaloupe is the best!” “Who likes honeydew?” “Are you crazy?” “How can you not like cantaloupe?” I will tell you.
Let’s start at the beginning of my disdain for cantaloupe, before you even cut it open. Its hard, beige, netted skin looks more like some fossilized reptile egg than anything I would cut open and put into my mouth. Most other melons have a relatively smooth outer surface, usually colored similar to their flesh, with the exception of watermelon – which is just a nature-made color complement that should not be questioned. About the cantaloupe flesh: I can’t abide the texture – slicker than all the other melons. When ripe, this slickness graduates to sliminess. Other melons aren’t slimy unless they are past their peak, so you can understand my apprehension about eating a slick and slimy melon.
I can usually manage to avoid cantaloupe – I even go so far to pick it out of fruit salad before putting it on my plate – but I find that is often not enough. The slime of cantaloupe adulterates all that it touches, especially exposed and vulnerable members of a fruit salad. The slime is bad enough, but with the slime comes the taste of cantaloupe infecting the rest of the should-be delicious fruit salad. There’s nothing worse than biting into a strawberry that has been corrupted by the unmistakable taint of cantaloupe. It’s a taste I can’t quite describe except to say that it gives me “the willies.” I find it unpleasant to the degree that it ignites a physical action of repulsion by my body: a compulsive shiver and a face I’m sure would make any small child giggle.
So, I hate cantaloupe. But, I do believe in the power of attrition, and I’m no quitter. I am constantly having my friends try new foods, including my ever-patient husband who doesn’t like cheese—all 50 kinds I’ve made him try. (I’m sure he is secretly thrilled that I have all-but-stopped eating dairy.) I also know that people’s palates change over time. I used to hate mushrooms, and now I can’t get enough…as long as they are cooked. So as not to appear a gustatory hypocrite for making my husband try tofu…and cheese…and beans time and again to see if maybe he likes that particular variation, I try cantaloupe at least once a year.
I can almost choke it down with a slice of good and salty prosciutto around it, but I really can’t shake the general feeling of unpleasantness that accompanies the taste of everyone’s favorite melon. Maybe someday—far, far in the future—it will win me over. Until then; more for you, I suppose.