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It's melons' magic!

Melon?s appearance in Europe goes back to the Moors who brought it to Spain from Persia or Africa, writes Annie Datta in her From the Varsity column.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2005 19:00 IST

Fire fighters scream past you to control yet another forest fire. The bright sun compels one to stay indoors while the soot settles on the window panes. Of late, day temperature at places has soared to 40 degrees centigrade. At one time fourteen districts were said to be under threat of forest fires in Portugal. Hot and dry conditions over the Iberian Peninsula had given rise to such fires in Portugal and southern Spain.

Life within miles of a fire seemed going undisturbed especially in the cool interiors of hypermarkets where melons occupied an unusually large space. Available at prices as low as 19 cents a kilogram, melon is a favourite buy. It is the new flavour in drinks, beverages and fruit yoghurts. Melons are often served for breakfast, or as an appetizer, dessert, or snack. Melons (branco or verde) taken with presunto as starters are common knowledge. Low in calories and fat-free, the fruit is a good source of Vitamins A and C.

Bright summer fruity colours mark the summer fashion in Portugal this year. Orange hues of mango and apricot, melon pink and kiwi green are the latest in fashion along with khaki and blue. Brilliant colours and exotic prints are in tune with the holiday season. These are also mood elevating colours and much of advertising on TV commercials is conceptualised after these very colours. The colour spectrum includes variations such as greens from light to dark and acids. In this context the Indian kurta in the fashion market has proved very flexible and versatile as it has successfully absorbed these colours to become a dress for all occasions. It could be worn at the campus or to the office or as beach cover-up and even as a cocktail dress depending on its colour, style and accompanying accessories.

Summer is the time when tourists throng Portugal in large numbers contributing to the volume of traffic on highways. Tourists are responsible for the overcrowding on beaches that hum with activity past midnight. Beach parties, audio-visual shows, book fairs, hot air balloons and other sports keep the beaches lit up and loud. Rising temperatures have not deterred tourists from visiting Portugal. Millions of visitors enter the country each year.

Summer months make one homesick even if that means a will to experience still higher temperatures of a Delhi summer in August. Equally illogical is one’s desire to enter an Indian restaurant in Lisbon serving hot spicy food with outside temperature around 37 degrees centigrade. Lisbon has pockets of mini India with its restaurants and shopping centres where one can buy familiar consumables at a price.

Summer and melons are associatively linked with India. Its highways are dotted with vendors sitting behind heaps of juicy water melons for the thirsty traveller. At times melon is a safe bet against polluted drinking water. Dried melon seeds afford a pleasant pastime. Rural women in North India make a living by extracting kernel from melon seeds. These are then sold to confectioners in time for Diwali sweets. Indian sweets with nuts and kernels overawe a foreign tourist limited to chocolates alone.

Melon’s appearance in Europe goes back to the Moors who brought it to Spain from Persia or Africa. The fruit was then taken to Italy. By the 15th century melons had reached France but had to be grown under protective conditions.

In celebration of melons it is often said “coma, beba e lave a cara com ele". In other words, eat, drink and wash the face with melon. Inspiring words for both the buyer and the seller.

First Published: Sep 03, 2005 00:00 IST