Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Melon balls wrapped in prosciutto ham

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a few days at Edible Schoolyard: a place I've read about for years, and a place that inspired the work I support today (school gardens, reconnecting kids with real food). The master educator Esther took us through an exercise she does with her students, one that encourages them to document a "food memory." Here's what I wrote:

1984, I think. My dad's surprise 39th birthday party. His "Jack Benny birthday," my Mom kept calling it. I was wearing a white zip-up jumpsuit with a bright pink belt and feeling very grown-up about welcoming the guests, all of my parents' closest friends. It was a really big party in our medium-sized NYC apartment.

My mom had made all of the food, including a bunch of passed hors d'oeuvres. My dish, that I was tasked with walking around for several hours, was a platter of balled cantaloupe, each ball wrapped in a strip of prosciutto. In 1984 this was pretty revelatory—the first wave of a "gourmet" explosion that would include goat cheese and sundried tomatoes, pesto and fancy vinegars.  This hors d'oeuvres platter was my mother's way of being cool and of the moment.

I was told to introduce them as "melon balls wrapped in prosciutto ham," since saying just "prosciutto" would have left too many questions unanswered ("soooo is it ham, or what?").  I said that phrase so many times to so many people, it became my mantra, with the words eventually losing their meaning to me.

melon balls wrapped in prosciutto ham
melon balls wrapped in prosciutto ham
melon balls wrapped in prosciutto ham

When I finally got the courage to try one myself, I marveled at the genius of the combination: the sweet juiciness of the melon surrounded by the creamy saltiness of the meat.

In a week I turn 39. My "Jack Benny" birthday. And it's hard to believe it's been so long....since my father was here with us. Since my parents hosted parties. Since I had never before tasted a melon ball wrapped in prosciutto ham.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

This is fantastic!