How Sweet It Is
I was smelling and thumping melons at Straubs the other day, when I noticed a variety I was unfamiliar with.
Just as I was about to ask the woman next to me if she’d ever eaten a Charentais, she asked me. Neither of us knew anything about the taste or origin of the miniature melon. But within seconds she had found an online description and began reading me the fine points.
I learned . . .
- The name is said: “sharan’taz”. (Though I later found about a half-dozen other pronunciations on line, that made me believe you can’t go wrong.)
- While the flesh is similar to most cantaloupes, it has a more intense aroma.
- The grapefruit size melon originated in France centuries ago and is associated with the Provencal area around the town of Cavaillon.
- Each July the town celebrates the local melon with a festival, during which 100 Camargue horse are released in the center of the French city.
- Having a thin skin and soft flesh mean the melons do not ship well. Hybrids with better shipping qualities are now available. (My melon was grown in the Dominican Republic, which would make for less wear and tear.)
- Alexandre Dumas once took payment for several of his books by requesting 12 of the melons each year for life.
- Both male and female flowers grown on the same plant, but only the female produces fruit.
- The French traditionally chill and scoop out the fruit halves and pour in a shot of port wine. Are you more interested now?