Fonzy Melon

I found the coolest melon of all time at the co-op this weekend– the Fonzy Melon!

Fonzy Melon! Ayyy!I’m not sure where the Fonzy Melon got it’s name (the Happy Days character is technically Fonzie), but after looking into it, I found that this melon is a variety of Canary melon, which is a winter melon that not so surprisingly gets its name from its bright yellow rind.

1. Peeling

These Seattle spring days have been warm, sunny, and jam packed full of fun, so a melon was the perfect pick for a cool, easy, evening snack. When I cut the melon in half, I was surprised that it was very similar in color and texture to a pear.

Fonzy HalvesI continued by seeding the melon and slicing it into eighths. The rind was very thin, but I took a few test bites, and in the areas where I hadn’t peeled away enough of the meat with the rind, it was disappointingly crunchy and chewy.

2. Wrap and Drizzle

I didn’t follow a recipe this week. My mom makes an hors-d’oeuvre with cantaloupe where she wraps it in prosciutto and drizzles it with a little bit of olive oil and adds a sprinkling of salt. I used it as my game plan for this melon.

Prosciutto wrapped fonzy melon

 3. The Verdict

I carried the plate of prosciutto-wrapped Fonzy Melon out to the back yard.

“What kind of melon is it again?” Chops asked, following me.
“A Fonzy Melon.”
“So it’s a melon you throw against a jukebox to get it to play?”
“Yep,” I smiled.
We took a seat. The sun had dipped below the roof line, but the air was still warm. The rhododendron in the corner dropped its blooms one by one. The once vibrant pink petals had faded and grown limp like used up pieces of bubble gum.
“A melon’s a pretty safe bet,” he said. “No one’s ever gotten killed from eating melon. I think we’re probably going to live through this one.”
“Well, there was that E. coli outbreak that was traced back to cantaloupe last year…”
“I’ll be fine. I drink too much jaeger to be taken down by E. coli,” he took a bite.
“What do you think?”
“It tastes like cantaloupe.”
“So it’s good?”
“Yeah, but not really weird.”
“Not weird, but good.”

For better or worse, the rest of the night our conversation was punctuated with Fonzie-like Italian-American exclamations:
Chops walked into any room I was in: “Ayyy!”
I dropped a piece of melon in the grass: “Oo-ooh!”
Or I would ask Chops for a glass of wine: “Come-ooon…”


Fiddle Head Ferns

I came across these pretty ladies at the Ballard Farmer’s Market this weekend:

Lady Fiddle Head Ferns on a market table

I couldn’t resist. For my first official blog post, they seemed like a pretty safe bet. Nothing terrible has ever come out of something so green and cute and curly, right? I bought half a pound for $5.00, and then began looking into fiddlehead ferns. As it turns out, these ladies have a duplicitous personality–they’re either toxic or tender. When raw, they contain a toxin that can cause terrible stomach pain, so they must be heated and prepared properly before they’re eaten.

A lot of what I read agreed with the sign on the marketeers table that said fiddleheads are great blanched and fried with bacon. I also came across an angel hair pasta and fiddlehead fern recipe. I decided to combine the two ideas, and made fettuccine carbonara guest starring fiddlehead ferns.

1: Blanching

I laid out a pretty solid rule in the first post about not killing Chops or myself. In keeping with that rule, it was important to blanch the fern tips before I did anything else with them. I trimmed off the brown parts and discarded any curls that weren’t tightly formed. (I read that the tips that aren’t tightly curled could be more likely to carry food-bourne illness. It was only one website, so it could be complete hogwash, but better to be safe than sorry, I suppose.) They frolicked around in boiling water for 4min and emerged fresh, clean, and much more tender:

Steamed Fiddlehead Ferns

2: Pasta!

I used the following recipe as the general guideline for making the fettuccini carbonara:

I added one additional step: once the bacon had been fried to my liking, I sauteed the fiddle head ferns in the rendered fat until tender.

Frying Fiddlehead Ferns

Once some of the smaller tendrils started losing their shape, I considered them done, drained away the excess grease, and served.

3: The Verdict

Fettuccini Carbonara with Fiddlehead Ferns

“Well, what do you think?” I asked Chops after his first few bites.
“I think I like it. They kind of have a little earthy taste to them. What do you think?”
“I like them. The ones that aren’t quite cooked enough have¬† a bitter taste to them, though.”
“I’ve definitely gotten one or two that are bitter. But the texture’s good. They’re kind of like little curled up asparaguses.”
“That makes total sense. I read they can be used as a substitute for asparagus in a lot of recipes.”
“Do they have the interactive pee smell?”
“The interactive pee smell?”
“Yeah, how asparagus makes your pee smell funny! You forget that you ate it, and then go to the bathroom and it’s like, OH YEAH! HELLLLLO ASPARAGUS! Will these do that?”
I started laughing. “You know, I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to find out.”

Sometime around 3am, I felt Chops get up out of bed. I took a quick sip of water before dozing off again. A minute or so later, he climbed back into bed and nudged me a little.
“Hmph,” I said.
“You know. I have to say, my pee did smell a little different.”

The No-Joe’s Challenge

When I moved to Seattle and started dating Chops, it wasn’t long before he convinced me to stop shopping at Trader Joe’s. “They prepackage everything,” he told me. “Despite their wholesome image, they’re not that good for the environment.” So the next week, I took the No-Joe’s Challenge. I went to fruit stands for my fruit, a farmer’s market for vegetables. I went to The Creamery in Pike Place Market for my milk and eggs, and to Bob’s Butcher Shop in Columbia City for my meat. It a lot of running around, but at the end of the day, I had gotten to spend a beautiful afternoon roaming around the city. The No-Joe’s Challenge had worked! It wasn’t long before I signed up as an owner at the Madison Market Co-op, and my apples come wrapped in plastic no more.

Part of what makes shopping at the co-op and other local markets interesting is that they aim to carry edible food items that meet the standards for all sorts of dietary restrictions. I don’t fall under any the categories of vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, Paleo, etc, but a lot of people who shop there do. A lot of times I find myself wandering around, wondering what in the world people do with all these foods. Quite frankly, it’s time to find out.

This is a blog about cooking with weird food. Each post will feature a different food item that I’ve never cooked with before. I’ll make a dish with it, make commentary on the taste, and do my best not to kill either Chops or myself in the process.

Here’s to open minds and open mouths!