For several summers around one particular Central Valley feedlot, we had cantaloupe fields planted. There are few simple pleasures that beat a cantaloupe, fresh from the field, on a 100+ degree San Joaquin Valley evening. Never mind that my buddy and I were carrying shotguns, patrolling the fields from dusk until nearly dawn, protecting against the “fruit stand banditos” that roam and pluck fruits and vegetables from fields to sell along the roadside. Nobody ever got shot, but we did fire a few warning rounds in the air to send a message.
I am so easily distracted. Back on task. Rather than sharing a BBQ tip or a recipe, let me help you to better enjoy a summer staple, that goes great with any cook-out:
- Smell: this is the #1 criteria for me. I can smell an entire box of cantaloupes at the market and pick the winners and losers. It needs to smell slightly sweet with a hint of green. This ensures a firm melon. Too sweet and it may be overripe. Too green and it will be underripe;
- Color: not green, mostly beige/brown. If it is too dark brown, pass on it. Sometimes, there will be a little green, which is fine if it smells right. Color is less important than smell.
Preferred method of serving: room temperature (I prefer letting it sit in the yard to warm-up!) with cracked black pepper (light).