Temperatures in the village are soaring, so, like the Spanish, Joe and I rarely venture outside in the middle of the day. However, last weekend I needed a letter posted, so I sent Joe to the postbox in the square.
A few minutes later he returned, letter in one hand, a bulging plastic carrier bag in the other. He looked hot and bothered.
‘You’re back already?’ I said, surprised. ‘What’s in the bag, and why didn’t you post the letter?’
‘Paco saw me pass by and gave me all these melons,’ Joe explained. ‘They’re so heavy I thought I’d bring them home first, then go out again to post the letter.’ He mopped his forehead and again ventured out into the hot street.Five minutes later, Joe still hadn’t returned. I stuck my head out of the window, glanced up and down the street and saw Joe approaching, carrying two heavy-looking bags.
‘More melons,’ he panted, sweat dripping off his nose. ‘Antonio, in the end house, called me in. I said we already had loads, but he insisted.’
‘What are we going to do with all these melons?’ I asked. ‘And did you post my letter?’
‘No, let me just catch my breath and have a cold drink, then I’ll try again.’
I dragged all the melons into the kitchen, and off Joe went for the third time, this time successfully posting the letter and returning empty-handed.
‘Well, the chickens are in for a treat,’ I said as we sat at the kitchen table, eyeing the melon mountain. ‘There’s no way we can eat all those melons ourselves.’
Just then, the phone rang. It was Marcia, the elderly lady who runs our village ‘shop’. The word ‘shop’ is a little euphemistic as there is very little stock for sale. Cigarettes, beer and a few sweets are on offer, but little else.
‘Come to the shop,’ said Marcia. ‘I have a surprise for you.’
Obediently, we retraced Joe’s steps back down to the square, in the searing heat, to find Marcia waiting for us, hairpins escaping from her silver hair. There was a large plastic crate on the counter.
‘Melons!’ she smiled, patting the crate. ‘For you, from my son. He grew them himself. The English supermarkets are buying all the melons he grows. Imagine! Your friends in England are probably eating my son´s melons grown here in El Hoyo!’
We put in an Oscar-deserving performance of thanking her, and lugged the crate home. Then we feasted on melons. The chickens feasted on melons. All our English friends in the next village feasted on melons. Even my hairdresser feasted on melons, and we still have plenty left…
So, when you buy your melon from Tesco, or Sainsbury’s, just check. Is it Spanish? If so, it may have come from El Hoyo.
My Recipe of the Month – Melon Soup with Serrano Ham
(Recipe courtesy of www.OrceSerranoHam.com)
Melon and serrano ham are a popular Spanish tapas combination. The sweetness of the melon and slight saltiness of the ham complement each other very well. Here we have a cold melon soup topped with crispy fried slices of serrano ham, very refreshing in the summer and tremendously healthy.
You will need:
1 Cantaloupe melon
6 – 8 slices of serrano ham
1 large cucumber
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Zest of half a lemon
Pinch of salt
200ml extra virgin olive oil
• Cut the melon in half, remove the seeds and cut of the skin, chop the melon into cubes.
• Peel the cucumber and chop into cubes then place these into a blender along with the melon.
• Blend for 2 minutes then add the lemon zest, vinegar and salt. Blend for a further minute then gradually add the olive oil (add more for the desired consistency if required)
• Place in the fridge for an hour.
• When the soup is cold carve your serrano ham and fry gently in olive oil until crispy.
• Serve the soup in wine glasses and garnish with the ham.
• Serve immediately.
“a charming and funny expat tale” The Telegraph (UK)
“Weeks later you will be doing the dishes and recall some fleeting scene with chickens or mules or two old fools and laugh out loud all over again.” The Catalunya Chronicle