Melon and Prosciutto

8 Aug

At Hy-Vee or Brown’s County Market, I can often find a good melon.  Especially in August.  We grow them around here.

But I’ve never seen prosciutto at Brown’s before.  For a split second, I think about taking all six packages on the shelf.

Be the change you want to see in the world, right?

I’ve totally forgotten why I came to the store now.   All I’m thinking  about is my paper-thin slice of prosciutto with some melon and a glass of wine.

The cashier looks tired.  And now she’s annoyed because my prosciutto has no price tag.

— Ma’am, you wouldn’t happen know the price on this, would you?

— Uh, no, sorry, no, I don’t.

The boy who bags groceries will have to ask the manager.   I’ll have more conversation with the cashier than I expected.

— So, what is this stuff anyway?

— It’s a kind of ham.  Sort of.

— Yeah?  Is it any good?

— It’s delicious.  Especially with melon.

— Seriously? With melon?

— Sure, you like ham and pineapple, don’t you?

The grocery bagger hollers: SEVEN DOLLARS AND NINETY-FIVE CENTS.

— $7.95?   That’s not much ham for $7.95.  You sure you still want it?  I can put it back on the shelf for you.

— No, no I’ll take it.  It sounds expensive, I know, but you only need a little bit of it.

— Really, it’s that filling?  It plumps up when you cook it, I guess, huh?

It plumps up when you cook it.  That’s the line that gets a laugh at my kitchen table over a glass of wine, if this is a story about provincial Midwesterners who don’t know what prosciutto is.

19 Responses to “Melon and Prosciutto”

  1. sledpress August 8, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    Snork!!!!! Thppftt!

    Back when I was not a vegetarian, I was invited to the Easter feast of an extended Italian family in Auburn, Rhode Island. There were so many people I was not sure whether to scope the exits or just pray for mercy. They had set up folding refectory tables in the back yard, which was mostly a concrete slab, and the first thing that appeared was a wedge of honeydew melon draped with a festoon of…. ham?

    “It’s Prosciutto,” said the friend who was a son of the family, “don’t worry, it’s good.”

    It was. Being a vegetarian does not oblige one to mendacity. Those New England Dagoes were hardly pikers when it came to chowing down, but they knew that some things were about the divine essence, and not how much it plumps up when you cook it. Thpft.

    • jenny August 9, 2011 at 6:06 am #

      “Back when I was not a vegetarian…” is a funny start to a sentence. That phrase doesn’t show up in the negative much. I might write something that begins: “Back when I was not a Jew…” 🙂

      • sledpress August 9, 2011 at 7:37 am #

        Well I was certainly not raised on vegetarian food (having had parents who were from small town Nebraska and rural Georgia respectively, in the 1950s, I can barely say I was raised on any kind of food). Just one of those things that I figured out as I went along.

  2. Thomas Stazyk August 8, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    Sounds fantastic but I would only use have the prosciutto for melon rolls and the rest I’d have with some mozzarella. Different wines would probably be necessary for each!

    • jenny August 9, 2011 at 6:15 am #

      Tom, I don’t dare ask my grocer to stock a decent mozzarella. We just got the prosciutto. A different whine is definitely necessary for each.

  3. Thomas Stazyk August 8, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    I meant “half”

    • dafna August 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

      and jenny meant wine?

  4. Paul Costopoulos August 9, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    Prosciutto is indeed very good even by itself. Your cashier reminded me of a scene in a small village North of Montreal when the grocery cashier asked for I.D. from a German tourist before cashing a traveler’s check. When the lady produced her passport, the cashier looked at it and said: “That is not a valid I.D.”

    • jenny August 9, 2011 at 6:16 am #

      Paul, now that is funny! 🙂

    • sledpress August 9, 2011 at 7:33 am #

      A high school friend of mine, after marrying and renting a place on some sweat equity terms, went to the local Home Depot for a pretty big order of paint and the like and offered the cashier a $100 bill. Without missing a beat the cashier asked for ID.

  5. Belinda August 9, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    Jenny, that is a beautiful photo of melon and prosciutto BUT please don’t laugh when I say this (I am not fond of prosciutto). Being part Sicilian and pretty much raised on that style of food you would think otherwise. Still a beautiful photo none the less :))

    Enjoy your new-found treasure at the grocery store!!

    • jenny August 9, 2011 at 5:53 pm #


      Your father made cannoli (shells formed on a broomstick!!) so it is amazing to me that you ate anything else growing up. Why would you?

      You think I might laugh because you don’t like prosciutto. That thought is EXACTLY what I had in mind when I wrote this. I hope you’ll read the companion piece.

      • dafna August 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

        funny, i don’t like proscuiutto either. something about muslims and jews not eating pork, etc….

        that thought was exactly the thought i also had when you wrote this…

      • jenny August 10, 2011 at 6:33 am #

        You know, Dafna, American culture is so wacky about food (on all sides) that you would think we were all talking about something as fundamental as kosher laws. That’s part of what interests me.

        Also–and kosher laws do this too–what we eat defines who we are and who we’re not. That’s why you think I might laugh at a person who doesn’t like prosciutto. And I catch myself in this game too.

  6. Mr. Crotchety August 9, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    First, let me say that this little pair of posts is brilliant.

    Second, let me say that I don’t like prosciutto either (and it is hard to spell). But I could eat a bottle cap if you wrapped it in bacon.

    Some folks eat to live and other folks live to eat.

    • jenny August 10, 2011 at 6:25 am #

      @ Mr. C. (appearing today with caps): 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Did you go to your reunion? Would you like to write a guest blog post about it for sw&sp? I promise modest fortune and artistic fame as a writer…or, at least a little sublimation.

  7. Mr. Crotchety August 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    I have not yet been. The setting; C&J Banquet Center. The mood: BYOB. I think that covers it.

    • jenny August 11, 2011 at 6:26 am #

      C&J Banquet Center, huh? I hope that’s where they used to hold your prom. I’m sure it was BYOB too. 🙂

      Anyway, have fun. I think you will.


  1. Prosciutto and Melon « sweat and sprezzatura - August 9, 2011

    […] This lady holding up the line today, she shops every day.  Every day.  Maybe that is how they do it in France, but I think she’s just disorganized.  It’s ridiculous how much money (and time) she spends on groceries.  Sad. […]

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