*This is part 2 of a new series on common Israeli products. Post 1 is my explanation of the difference between couscous and Israeli couscous.*
Two melons were talking in the fridge.
“Honey, do you love me?”
“Sorry, can’t elope tonight. I’ve got to water melons.”
This is one of the punniest jokes I ever heard. Go ahead and groan. I’m joining you. It does, however, highlight what Americans consider the standard varieties of melon.
When I lived in the USA, the three types of melon we usually bought were spherical, netted, orange-fleshed cantaloupe; smooth, oblong, green-fleshed honeydew; and, of course, watermelon. Every once in a while my mother would come home from the supermarket with something exotic-sounding, like a musk melon or Crenshaw, just for fun.
Since I moved to Israel, melons, which are in season throughout the summer along with watermelons, are sold simply as “melon.” Both in the supermarkets and in open-air markets like the famous Machane Yehudah Market in Jerusalem, melons are melons, or occasionally “honey melons” hawked by over-zealous vendors. I learned from experience that “honey melon” is not honeydew, just regular melon being advertised as “sweet as honey.” Plenty of times, I have bought a small, netted melon, expecting it to be orange cantaloupe, only to cut it open and discover pale green flesh. The opposite it true as well; smooth-skinned melons can be orange.
I know this guessing game bothers some consumers. They want to know what they are getting before cutting the melon open. I understand. People are naturally curious. If you are not a caterer arranging a fruit platter with a specific balance of colors, however, I don’t see the problem with a little surprise. Nothing is a secret in this day and age. We tweet what we’re thinking and feeling and Instagram pictures of everything we do to whoever cares to listen. I even heard a while back of a company that developed a pregnancy test that automatically posts a positive result on the user’s Facebook page. Is there no shame left in the world?
But if you really want to know about your melon….
- The melons that we mistake for cantaloupes that turn out to be green are probably Galia melons. The Galia melon was developed in Israel in the 1970s at the Neve Ya’ar Research Center of the Agricultural Research Organization, Dr. Zvi Karchi and named after his daughter, Galia. Galia melons, our local “green cantaloupes,” are fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in calories, and high in vitamin C, vitamin A, bioflavanoids, potassium, iron, calcium, fiber, and pectin. A sub-type of the Galia melon is the Arava melon.
- One of the parents of the Galia melon is the HaOgen melon, literally “anchor” in Hebrew, and also known as the Israel melon. The HaOgen melon is smaller than most melons, and it has stripes on its outer skin and sweet, green flesh and hints of salmon color around the seeds. It is nutritionally very similar to the Galia melon.
- The Ananas melon, meaning “pineapple melon” in Hebrew, may be the most common generic melon on the Israeli market. It is oval in shape, has netted skin, and weighs about two kilograms. Its flesh can range in color from white to pale green to orange. This is probably my melon in the picture above.
Now that we have so much sweet, delicious melon, what should we do with it?
We usually eat it plain or in fruit salad. This melon I served with cottage cheeses as a light lunch.
Come back throughout the summer for more melon recipes and ideas!
If you have an Israeli product you would like explained, please contact me.