August is usually tinted melon for me. Inspired by the heady perfume of ripe melons at the market, I rediscover the sultry beauty of Frédéric Malle Le Parfum de Thérèse and Parfums DelRae Emotionnelle. On sunny mornings that promise to turn into steamy days, I create my own versions of Сhandlеr Вurr’s “scent dinners.” Except that mine are usually breakfasts and I skip the lecturing part. I cut ripe cantaloupe into medium cubes and mix it with thick Greek yogurt. A drizzle of honey (or a splash of rosewater, depending on my mood), and it’s ready. Perfumed with Hermès Un Jardin Après La Mousson–a melon and rose perfume, I’m too ready to start my day.
When Brussels unexpectedly turned steamy–here it means a mere 80F, I discovered that without the air conditioning, even this relatively comfortable temperature can turn an apartment with large windows and transparent blinds into a sauna. Working from home, all I could do was to wear a bikini top and a thick layer of sunscreen. The other solution to staying cool was to drink horchata. True to my summer theme, I made a melon flavored variation.
Horchata is a Spanish drink made with starchy chufa or tiger nuts. Creamy and sweet, it’s nevertheless refreshing on hot summer days. The New World adaptations of horchata use more readily available ingredients–rice, almonds and other nuts. When I discovered the melon seed variation at a Mexican friend’s dinner party, I immediately wanted the recipe. The orange hued drink had a heady perfume of summer–musky, tart, with a faint jasmine note. At first, it tasted zesty and bright, but the lingering almond sweetness gave it richness. “That’s just nothing,” laughed Laura seeing the surprised look on my face. “Just water, melon seeds and lime juice.”
Getting a delicious and fragrant drink out of something that normally is thrown away appeals to my thrifty side. But I will tell you that I sometimes buy melons just to make horchata de melón. It’s an instant refreshment, and its perfume of summer in the glass is simply irresistible. Cantaloupes and honeydews have such a strong fragrance that even when you use only the seeds, you get the full spectrum of the melon aroma. The seeds themselves have a green almond flavor, which is mild and delicately sweet. An addition of citrus juice is essential to create a bouquet worthy of being bottled–the tartness enhances the luscious sweetness of fruit, while the peppery lime note gives the drink more complexity.
Melon and Lime Horchata (Horchata de Melón)
Seeds of 1 small melon (about 1/2 cup)
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste
Mint leaves and ice cubes for serving (optional)
Cut open the melon and scoop out the seeds and the juicy pulp clinging to them. Add seeds, water and sugar into a blender and pulse 6-8 times, or until smooth. Add lime juice. Depending on the melon, you might need to add more sugar or more lime juice to achieve a pleasant sweet and tart flavor. Chill in the refrigerator (at least 30 minutes or overnight), strain through a fine mesh sieve and serve.
Photography by Bois de Jasmin