Prosciutto and Melon

 Prosciutto and Melon

Prosciutto e Melone

Prosciutto and Melon

 The first time I ate melons wrapped in prosciutto was when I visited Florence, thirty years ago. It was mid-summer, melons were in season. Special stands were set up where you could stop and enjoy a slice of melon, kept cool in a vat of water. These stands would appear over night under trees, were there was a little shade from the hot sun, a few tables and chairs were put out for a makeshift eating area. As quickly as they popped up they disappeared once the season was over. Venders driving Apes, small three wheel vans, would maneuver through the narrow streets shouting “Cocomero, cocomero”. Every restaurant had Prosciutto e Meloneon the menu.

The classic way to serve Prosciutto e Melone is to cut the melon in wedges and wrap the prosciutto around the wedges.

Spanish melon

Spanish Melon

I thought I would try something a little different today. I cut the melon crosswise, removed the peel, scooped out the seeds, and piled the prosciutto, which is cut paper-thin, in the middle. Then garnished it with a sprig of fresh mint.

 

 Parma is home to Italy’s finest prosciutto. The air of the Langhirano Valley is so dry that hams can be cured with a modest amount of salt. The air is dry enough to prevent the succulent flesh of grain fed hogs from spoiling. After an initial salting, the hams are hung up by the thousands in large wooden warehouses with louvered walls that allow breezes to circulate inside, slowly drying the meat.

 To judge whether a melon is ripe, press the end opposite the stem with our thumb. The rind should yield a little and spring back. If it is too hard, the melon won’t be sweet; if it is too soft, the melon is overripe. A good melon should have a sweet pleasant fragrance if it is ready to eat.

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