I sit at Tavernaccia—a restaurant I never would have found were I not staying around the corner, and with which I have fallen in love, sipping an amaro (bitter, herbal liquor—no, it’s nothing like jaeger) and digesting after a “light” dinner of prosciutto e melone with focaccia.
I am so satisfied with my dining experience that I feel an inescapable compulsion to write about it.
There is something about prosciutto e melone that has won my deep appreciation over the past couple years.
The melon almost candy-sweet against the raw pungency of the prosciutto. The tough chew of the meat giving way to the yielding softness of summer fruit. The almost intellectual pleasure of trying to maintain a perfect balance of the two right up to the last bite (or is that just me?).
A dish like this is a haiku. Three lines: prosciutto, melon, olive oil. (Maybe a dusting of sea salt and a side of focaccia, but that’s just proverbial gravy.) Perfect symmetry in simplicity. Oh yes, I would recommend it—Mi racommando, like the waiter said, though I have never managed to understand the exact intricacies of the phrase.
The melon (canteloupe) can be substituted with fresh figs, which creates an equally perfect culinary haiku.
Here is the recipe:
Canteloupe or fresh figs (or both!)
Raw Prosciutto (high quality and sliced very thin)
Olive Oil (the good stuff you can really taste)
To prepare, layer slices of melon or fig over prosciutto, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with fresh bread or focaccia.
(Alternately, you can wrap slices of prosciutto around pieces of melon to create bite-sized appetizers—perfect for hors d’oeuvres!)
This is the kind of dish best enjoyed sitting down with no distractions and maybe a glass of wine. Some foods lend themselves to multi-tasking. This is not one of them.
Perfect symmetry in simplicity. What’s better?
Author: Toby Israel