There are few memories of my first trip to Birmingham, Alabama: Joking uncles, watching Spike Lee movies until sunrise with our cousins and eating sugary cantaloupe. The morning we left Birmingham, it was sweltering hot. My uncle joked about the sweat on my nose being a sign of evil. Being too young and believing every comment, I wiped the sweat off. As the final suitcase was packed into the back of Dad’s truck, our Great Aunt handed us a large container of sliced cantaloupe to enjoy on the long drive back to Virginia. My sister and I were overjoyed about eating more cantaloupe. A few hours later, Mom unsealed the container of cantaloupe slices. The first bite was a salty surprise. We’ve never had cantaloupe with salt, and we didn’t like it. Well, Mom and Dad thought the better of the situation, because it was more for them. My sister and I watched our parents gorge on our sweet cantaloupe ruined with salt.
It must of been too much for my young taste buds back then. It’s only recently I’ve discovered a pinch of sea salt on vine-ripened cantaloupe isn’t bad. Keep in mind, the cantaloupe has to be super sweet, preferably vine-ripened from a garden or farmers market. Don’t bother making this recipe during the winter, when cantaloupes are flavorless.
A pinch of coconut sugar is thrown in with the matcha sea salt, because I wasn’t convinced of its ability to enhance a sweet cantaloupe. Blame it on my traumatized memory of my initial tasting of salted cantaloupe; the memory of that taste harbors disappointment. Pairing the salt with matcha green tea enhanced the idea of salting melons. Past disappointments melted into a flavorful bliss of cantaloupe’s intense sweetness.
It’s late in the summer, and pumpkins are being displayed. My social media timelines are full of squash recipes. The last of summer’s produce are savored because of my new favorite addiction: Salted Cantaloupe. Which is a shame, because the season for cantaloupe is winding down. For now, like my parents, I’m gorging cantaloupe slices with a slight sprinkling of matcha sea salt.