Watermelons are rampant here at the moment, they are ginormous, carrying them to the cash desk is like an Ironman challenge but they are the most refreshing object to munch on in the current 36 degree days we are having here in Italy.
Before lockdown happened when Ronan and I would go to the local supermarket, we often saw a little old couple together. The gent would pick the fruit up with his plastic gloved hand, gloves have always been provided in supermarkets for handling and choosing fruit and veg in Italy it’s not just a covid thing, anyway this old gent would pick up the piece of veg and smell it, inspect it and if it passed the test it would be placed in the basket while his wife patiently waited for each verdict. He was back again after Lockdown and this time he was tapping water melons. It piqued Ronan’s curiosity, “What do you think he is listening out for?”
“A little hello from inside perhaps?”
“Do you think a hollow sound is good or a dull sound is bad? Or would hollow be bad and dull would mean good?”
“I don’t know, just buy a bloody watermelon.”
That was about a month ago, and last week Ronan was back at the supermarket in our town and as usual for this time of year, there were a lot of German and Dutch tourists doing their shopping. In the fruit aisle there was a big crate of huge watermelons. Ronan being Ronan couldn’t resist. He goes along tapping each watermelon and holding his ear to it trying to figure out, or be given some divine sign, as to which would be the best watermelon to buy.
A tourist comes up to him and starts speaking Italian, Ronan doesn’t know what he is saying so asks “Can you speak english?”
“Oh yes great, I am sorry for my poor Italian.” The tourist says to Ronan, who doesn’t speak a word of Italian. “Can you choose one for me?” he says pointing at the watermelons.
Instead of picking one at random and exiting stage left as quickly as possible, Ronan spent a couple of minutes going from watermelon to watermelon tapping each with his ear close to the crate, and giving his new found expert opinion on why one sounded better than the other in his best Italian speaking english accent. “This one, you should choose-o-this-a-one-a,” he said confidently. When he looked up there was a small crowd watching. The tourist was very grateful and Ronan nodded and backed away, having a little laugh to himself.
When he had finished a quick shop and was at the pay desk, he looked over and there were still several tourists tapping watermelons and listening for the magical mystery sound. Ronan who will be forever now known as The Watermelon Tapper came home without what he originally went to the shop for – a watermelon.
Do you smell vegetables before buying? What do you look for to show they are the right choice?
Watermelon – L’anguria
Tourist – Il turista
Battere le dita- tapping the fingers
Can you speak english? – Parla inglese?
With cantelope you smell the end that was attached to the vine. If it smells “cantelopey” its ripe. Tomatoes the same (well they don’t smell like cantelope but you get it). That slightly tart whiff of summer tomatoes!!