09 January 2009

memories of a warm summer afternoon

In August, my friend Gina and I took a long lunch hour to visit Alan’s roof garden. I had bent her ear about it all summer, and she, a gardener herself, was itching to see it. As we were walking from the subway, I called B, and he came along from work, too.

Alan showed Gina around, and Gina was dumbfounded and amazed (as are we all) at what Alan is able to grow on the roof of his apartment building. After she thanked him, and we were getting ready to go back to work, Alan asked us to wait a minute while he checked on the melons he was growing. Sure enough, he said, the Charentais was ready.

If you’ve never eaten a Charentais you will not believe me when I say it’s possible to get a little bit of a buzz off of a slice of melon, warm from the sun and melting and soft and sweet. You don’t see Charentais very often in the greenmarket because they are too delicate. And if you grow them yourself, you have to keep a close eye on how quickly they’re ripening, because if they remain on the vine a day or two too long, they simply expire and collapse in on themselves. That happened to Alan’s Charentais last year on the weekend he came to visit B and me in the country.

Charentais have an orange flesh like a cantaloupe, but that’s about all they have in common with a cantaloupe. We sat down, generous gentle Alan cut the melon into four wedges, and we all got a little tipsy on Charentais.

We followed the Charentais with a beautiful green-fleshed melon and then a gold watermelon. The pictures below are of Gina enjoying the watermelon. I can’t remember the names of those other two melons; they were delicious, don’t get me wrong, but all I can really hold onto is the taste of that Charentais.


  1. This story is really interesting Jared. Thanks for sharing. Getting a buzz off a melon sure does sound cool;) Or at least, memorable. It's certainly new to me. Growing stuff on a roof garden is intriguing to me, as well. Jan

  2. I'm not exaggerating. It was really an amazing piece of melon. The juice was so fragrant that it felt like it was vaporizing in our mouths. I can't explain it very well. If you can grow a Charentais, try it! Now I've oversold it, of course. But it WAS good. Alan's roof is something. His landlord lets him garden up there because it's a selling point for the building; it's open to everyone, and it's a great place to hang out when the weather's nice. Thank you so much for commenting! I love comments.

  3. Anonymous5:56 PM

    The menu sounds delightful! So does the rooftop garden. Photos of the garden?

  4. Hiya, Nancy! I've got a link off to a post about the roof garden complete with pictures at the beginning of the post. I didn't get a chance to get some late-summer photos of the garden when the camera was not working so well, but suffice it to say that Alan knows what he's doing. People who love to garden are the best sort of people in my book.

  5. sounds like a very cool experience Jared!

    Now you've got me curious about Charentais.

    The roof garden sounds wonderful.

  6. I have to admit that when Alan told me about Charentais, I thought, "It's a melon, Alan, for crying out loud." As it turns out, it's a VERY GOOD MELON. Heh heh. Thanks for visiting. So many blogs to read!