Gascony is famous for the quality of its produce – foie gras, armagnac of course, but also fruit and vegetables – figs, garlic, tomatoes, plums and of course melons. Lectoure melons especially…

There’s a small market in our village on Wednesdays. Three stalls of fruit, veg and meats. One of the stalls sells local melons. This area is famous for them and they are delicious. Totally. Utterly. Delicious. So we go each week to get a melon. The lady selling them has her roots in this landscape. Her accent is strong. Her voice raspy. She is wise. And she knows stuff. Especially about melons.

“I’d like a melon please” I say in faltering French. She looks me up and down. Critically. Is this a test? Am I not worthy to buy one of her melons? I point to one that looks just like all the other melons in the basket. “When do you want to eat it?” She asks. Ye Gods! Is this another test?? Are there days when one can / can’t eat melons? “Today?” I answer with trepidation. She resolutely ignores the melon of my choice, picks up another (that looks exactly like the one I pointed at), rolls it in her hands, prods it, sniffs it and gives it to me. “This one is for today”. “That one”, she says pointing at the one I had chosen, “is not ready until tomorrow.” She smiles. I want to be a melon expert when I grow up.