A beautiful Umbrian woman once confided in me that when Italians wanted to squeeze into their sleek new Prada number they would adopt a strict diet of prosciutto e melone. Delicate slices of salty cured ham wound around chunks of juicy, musky melon is so delicious I could almost imagine eating it for colazione, pranzo e cena. “Ma, questo e tutto?” I asked. “Solamente” she confirmed.
Although intrigued, I know I am far too promiscuous an eater, especially when there are so many ripe, ready fruits for plucking.
The sharp, sugary, bold, ripe flavors of summer fruit are the perfect foil for rich, salty, cured and roasted meats. Toasts smeared with duck rillettes are made even more delicious with a dollup of plum mostarda. Who can resist fat wedges of nectarine, secured with strips of pancetta, caramelized over a hot fire? This week’s duck crepinettes are studded with almonds and bites of plumped prunes. Fennel sausages roasted in the wood oven alongside clusters of Bronx grapes make a simple, satisfying supper. Quail stuffed with ripe figs and sausage might be a stretch even for the Italian diet, but don’t fret, you can always eat prosciutto and melon tomorrow!