While cleaning the seeds out of an orange-flesh honeydew melon recently, I found myself wondering if they could be roasted, like pumpkin seeds. After all, melons belong botanically to the same family (along with other squashes, cucumbers, and gourds), and roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious, so why not melon seeds?
It turns out that it's me that's behind the curve, because roasted melon seeds are consumed across much of the Middle East and Asia. I even found ready-to-eat, roasted, salted melon seeds available for on-line order.
The technique couldn't be simpler. Rinse away all of the pulp (that which is not seed, in other words), soak for awhile in heavily salted water, drain, and roast in a dry skillet until golden and puffed. Let cool.
Now comes the meditative part. These seeds are small, and they must be "shelled" to reveal the tiny, nutty germ inside. (I suspect that larger-seeded varieties provide the seeds for roasting in other countries.)
Holding a seed on edge, I bit down lightly on the pointy end until it popped open slightly, a surprisingly easy and, for some reason, delightfully sensual activity. Then, using my fingernails, I pried the seed apart to reveal…sometimes nothing, sometimes a tiny kernel, sometimes a surprisingly plump morsel nestled inside.
Eaten one at a time, the seeds had a delicious flavor, slightly salty and nutty. You could shell a cup of them and only end up with a tablespoon of edible bits.
So why bother?
I bothered (and I eventually ate every single seed) because I found the process quite meditative. I would sit at the table after dinner and go repetitively through the few steps required to open these diminutive seeds, an activity that coaxed me to draw my attention down from the sometimes hectic swirl that I whip up in my brain, to focus, with purpose, on gently opening a single seed. Sometimes there was a reward inside, and sometimes there was not. What a great lesson in attachment!
Eating melon seeds, I have decided, is not so much about the outcome (the kernels) as it is about the process, how we go about getting where we're going. And that's just as important as the finish line.
I told my sweetie I was getting in touch with my inner junco; he nodded gently in that way he has that means "How did I end up with someone this strange?"
Luckily for me, he likes juncos.