Melons in the Midwest

18 Jul


Dear Emma,

Honeydew melons remind me of you and of childhood. They flash me back to Stringtown Grocery with its gas-lamps and Amish ladies selling peaches, apricots, Muscatine melons and honeydews in bulk. Then rattling home in the “way-back” over country gravel roads, pretending that we were driving the car backwards while dust filtered in through the cracks in the van.

Our friendship, which spans the whole of both of our lives, is so engrained in my own history that I can’t help but be reminded of it all the time. Especially while standing at the grocery mulling over melons.

xoxo, Zoe

I worked briefly at a French restaurant in Milwaukee. During my two-month tenure of 10 shifts a week, I would wake up every morning, fling myself out of bed and immediately fall over. My feet were tingling stumps, an odd combination of numb, swollen and on pins and needles.

The evening kitchen was manned by a chef, a true Frenchman with a growling accent, a cloudy disposition, and an allergy to any politesse. The female servers were salopes and his male kitchen help had an equally endearing nickname (dumbfu*k). Though I made less money, I preferred working lunch shifts because the Frenchman was at home in bed.

Lucas was the lunch cook and spoke minimal English. He was also illiterate. It took me a couple weeks of botched orders and reminders  to carefully pronounce each ticket, before I understood.

Eventually we got into a rhythm. I would call out the order while entering the kitchen, stick the ticket on the board, re-read, point to each item, Lucas would okay it and I would head back to my tables. It was a good partnership.

Still, I was miserable at this job. I had nothing else lined up and I tried to think of a reason to stay, but not even the food could sway me. The Frenchman had dreamed up a menu of rubbery crepes wrapped around American tastes. They were reheated in the microwave, disguised with a cream sauce and a flourish of parsley.

One item on the menu belonged to Lucas. A refreshing chilled melon soup was a regular lunch special that July. He taught me the recipe one afternoon after the rush was over. No measurements were involved, just practiced nonchalance.

Lucas’ Honeydew Soup

Juicy treat.

You will need:

1 ripe honeydew melon

3 springs of mint

1/4 c heavy whipping cream.

To make it:

Slice, de-seed, and peel the entire melon. Drop the melon slices into your food processor or blender and puree until it becomes smooth. Strip the mint leaves from their stems and add them to your blender. Puree.

When thoroughly combined, pour in whipping cream in a stream and pulse your blender quickly. Too much, and your cream will begin to curdle in an attempt to become butter.

Place the soup in the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 1 hour. When cool, pour into bowl, put in mouth, and enjoy.

Good for a hot day.


2 Responses to “Melons in the Midwest”

  1. moonbeam July 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    hey! i think i might be able to adapt this recipe to my diet!

  2. Julia July 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    You in the truck pretending to drive backwards mixed with me imagining this soup in my mouth really made my day.

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