Monday, September 15, 2014

Bringing Home the Melon

The Life of a $14 Piece of Fruit

¥1500 = $13.97 (on 9/14/14)
Today we are here at the farmer's market adjacent to the famed (well it should be) Yamabe Winery in Matsumoto, Japan. The weather has been gracious here in the mouth of the Susukigawa River Valley, and someone is ready to start spewing his garbled genius out a mouth full of the best apples and grapes this side of Mt. Olympus.

No chopsticks needed here, just bring your appetite for fresh, healthy eating and a wheelbarrow full of napkins. Make no mistake, this is fruit at its finest, available for exhorbitant prices in a setting where your urge to haggle is politely smothered under a blanket of glib Japanese niceties from elderly men and women who would also bow if they weren't permanently bent over at the waist from a lifetime of tilling the soil with hand tools.

But breathe easy, suspicious traveler. This is one place you never have to worry about being short-changed (largely because you probably won't be getting any change).

At 1,500 Japanese Yen this beautiful watermelon ('西瓜' – which of course is pronounced 'soo-ee-kah') may seem to the uninitiated to be a bit pricey. But notice, inexperienced consumer of Japanese fruit! This suika comes with its own harness, a wonderful little safety net strong enough to hold up ten watermelons yet is soft enough on your fingers to make carrying this overgrown gourd nothing more than a mildly excruciating labor of love for the sake of your sugared-up kids.

That’s right, no fumbling the old melon here! No letting that baby slip out from under your arm, watching it split open, spilling its red guts all over the parking lot and your shoes while you are trying to remotely unlock your car (suspicious travler that you are). Yes, when you purchase one of these string-secured specimens you’re not just getting a watermelon, you’re getting peace of mind thanks to that ingenius red and white support system not to mention the comfort that can only come from knowing that your big watery baby will make it home undamaged. That your children will be happy and hyper, juice running down their chins as they spit their seeds at you and each other and in every conceivable direction, wiping their sticky hands on their clothes and their chairs, on the table and the walls and each other which is fun if you can forget for half a second that you are going to have to clean all of it up later, right along with their hair probably, but not before you finish eating all the half-eaten slices the little rascals are leaving on their plates or more likely right on your easy-stain table, big chunks of abandoned redness you feel compelled to bite and suck and gnaw and consume after spending 1,500 yen to get that bonus net of knotted string so your 西瓜 wouldn’t end up splattered all over the pavement and your pumps but you can’t eat just now your mouth is already full of yelling at the kids to stop picking those seeds off the floor and spitting them at you and each other and in every direction again but not at your husband because he passed on the melon, grabbed a beer and headed straight for the couch and the game, removing himself from this juicy, seed-ridden, wet sticky mess before it even started, annoyingly prescient to this downward spiral that has come of the $14 melon with the safety net you now wish did not come standard with each and every flippin suika, that what a wonderful place this Japan would be if they could just give you the option of a non-insured melon so you could not only save the extra expense but you could feed the kids a line about how bad you feel because yes, you did buy them watermelon but when you went to remotely unlock the car the sweet unfettered fruit went tumbling out of your cradled arm, its sweet succulence splattering all over the parking lot and your shoes (which you since wiped perfectly clean) and there was just no way to save him, so young and tender and juicy and smashable a melon that he was, but you promise to try again tomorrow kids or hey I know how about sharing a $2 peach?