Monday, May 22, 2006


"We're going to eat anguria", announced Lucia, the Italian woman I stayed with in 1969. I didn't even know what that was and had she said, in English, "watermelon", I'd have been none the wiser, for I had never seen one.

An hour or so later, after much convivial deseeding of the enormous slices of fruit, I tasted it - and thought I had truly found the food of the gods. It was so refreshing and energising and the soft flesh just slid down my throat [and the juice down my chin!]

On mainland Italy, particularly at tourist sites, they sell the slices, along with coconut slices drenched in water, from stalls, but I have not seen them sold like that here.

When it was time to go back to Britain, I told my Italian boyfriend that I would like to take an anguria home if I could find a smallish one. "What do you think they're like? - tennis balls?!" he exclaimed and went off shaking his head at the stupidity of this 19-year-old British girl who didn't know that there is no such thing as a small anguria.

Back in London exotic fruit was just beginning to appear in supermarkets and foreign grocery stores so Dad and I scoured North London till we found a watermelon. But the flesh wasn't the vivid pink colour I had seen in Italy and it didn't taste the same - and they still don't, in Britain.

I read that they are now trying to produce an entirely seedless variety [and may have done so, for all I know]. Now where's the fun in that?!

Here peaches, nectarines, cherries and nespole [medlars], which I have never seen in Britain, are all reappearing. I spotted the first anguria lorry last week and was immediately transported back to that first Italian summer of mine in 1969.

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