On Saturday I passed another rite of passage for any child of the 80s whose mother threw frequent dinner parties - my first melon baskets, marking my transition from pizza parties to dinner hostess. And not just any melon baskets.
I was doing my usual Saturday laiki shop and picked up a melon. The man on the stall put it back and picked up another one for me, assuring me his choice was better.
And wow, was he ever right. This melon, this peponi of my dreams, was absolutely perfect. One day before or one day later and it would have been less perfect. It was at its absolute, glorious peak of perfection. The first sign that it would be that good was when I opened my backpack to unload my shopping and a sweet smell wafted out. You can tell a good melon by the smell. Once I embarked on a futile mission in a London supermarket smelling melons while a bemused friend looked on and asked me what the hell I was doing.
"Trying to find a sweet one."
"And you'll do that by smelling it!"
Oh, the tragedy of life in the UK with it's bland supermarket fruit.
I got to work on the melon and a small watermelon we had bought turning them into baskets, my mother's summer desert of choice at a dinner party. I ate the cut offs and I have to tell you, this was the most perfect peponi I have eaten in decades. A melon that good only turns up once every 10 years and I was the one who got it.
That evening I admitted to my guests that I was becoming a total grandma or housewife or something, because all day I had been so happy about this perfect peponi. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops: I found the perfect melon, the best melon in the entire laiki! They agreed with me when they tried it though, and my Irish friend fell about laughing at how enthusiastically I had resurrected this 80s party trick.
Melon baskets, people. Don't knock it till you've tried it. Instructions for a melon basket much fancier than mine can be found here. You will need a melon baller, an instrument like a mini icecream scoop which looks like this and can be found at Alpha Beta supermarket.
That's another reason I love summers in a hot climate. They remind you so strongly of the really simple and most rewarding pleasures in life, like cold glasses of water on hot afternoons, painting your toenails neon pink or the perfect slice of melon.