The Japanese seem to have this unique fascination with melons. A favored dessert after either an elaborate or simple Japanese meal, melons seem to have achieved a bizarrely elevated position in the fruit hierarchy in Japan and South Korea. They sell melons (and other fruit) in their groceries that go for more than USD100 a piece and more common melons might run you USD20-30 a piece! I also read once about their experiments with creating square watermelons (by growing them in forms) so that they would be easier to pack and shipâ€¦ At any rate, their horticulturists have been busy over the past century or so developing new varieties or hybrids from existing melons from around the globe. I havenâ€™t done extensive research but the sought after melons in Japan seem to have a very noticeable and stunningly beautiful webbing or netting on their outer skin or rind. Of course the melons must also be juicy, flavorful and sweet.
I saw this stunning green melon at the market last Saturday (along with lots of other melons and cantaloupes that are nearing the peak of melon season) and the vendor said they were â€œJapaneseâ€ melons but grown here. I am always wary now when a vendor says something is Japanese as they are often totally clueless, see my post on Japanese tomatoesâ€¦ I purchased one of these melons which looks very similar to those vaunted Cavaillon melons from France and took it home and placed it on my counter. Contrary to what most folks think, melons do NOT get riper once they have been cut from the vine. They might get juicier but they donâ€™t get any sweeter so leaving them out to â€œripenâ€ really means you are simply waiting for them to get juicierâ€¦ thus the best melons come directly from conscientious growers who harvest them at the peak of their ripeness. Sliced open, this melon was fragrant, juicy and sweet. Not the absolute best honey dew (as opposed to orange cantaloupe) I have ever had but a very good melon indeed. At PHP120 a kilo, this little baby cost PHP150 or so and would yield maybe 10 modest slices.
I often find that locally grown melons have an off flavor or simply lack character. Many times they taste of soil which is really off-putting. I thought it was just a matter of dirt on the skin of the melon that you taste when you cut it but even after washing the melons it still has this excessively earthy taste. Other times the melons are totally watery and lack flavor. Occasionally, you run across a stunning melon and when that happens I buy several and make juice or just eat them plain but chilled. The fact that this green melon, which was locally grown, was very good, seems to suggest that we just need the right seeds and take care to ensure the proper growing conditions and harvest protocols. I will be having the remaining slices with some really thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma in the days aheadâ€¦yum!