Melão Coalhada

Ark of taste
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The melão coalhada (Cucumis melo), from the family Cucurbitaceae, is the fruit of a climbing plant and could be mistaken for a cucumber when still green–indeed, it is also called melão pepino, or “cucumber melon.” When ripe, the melão coalhada is yellowish in color, has an elongated shape, and measures approximately 30 centimeters long. Its skin is thin and it has soft, juicy flesh, a strong smell and numerous flat seeds. The skin falls from the flesh when the fruit ripens. Melão coalhada is traditionally split in half, sugar or panela (unrefined sugar) is added, and it is eaten with a spoon, giving the impression of eating a sorbet.

The melão coalhada is a fruit that is generally grown for personal consumption in farmers’ backyards and plantations. It is generally grown in the rainy season in the region, which is normally in November in the Caatinga. When irrigation is used, the fruit is grown almost all year round. However, this is not the case in the region in question.

Young people and those with access to electricity liquidize melão coalhada and serve it as a juice. The use of melão coalhada in typical festivals or specific events was not recorded in the statements. The fruit has been identified in two areas of the semi-arid region of Bahia, Piemonte da Diamantina and Sertão do São Francisco. The crop is grown in the outback during the rainy season (November – March), but irrigated cultivation is practiced in some regions. In the region, the product has little commercial value and production is for family consumption, but it can be found at some local markets.

Melão coalhada is produced in the backyards of licuri workers or of producers in the municipality of Várzea da Roça, Jabuticaba, as well as by other families in the area, according to accounts. This product has not been cultivated much in several semi-arid regions, as a result of prolonged dry spells and its low commercial value. Melão coalhada is sold at local markets. It was found at the Capim Grosso market.

On trips and visits to local communities, the fruit is always on offer, revealing its importance in local food culture. Producers describe what a pleasure it is to eat and to smell the fruit’s aroma when ripe. It is described in poetic terms and everyone talks about how the skin falls from the fruit, revealing that it is ready to eat. This product is facing extinction because it has not been cultivated much in several semi-arid regions, as a result of prolonged dry spells and its low commercial value.

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