If you’ve been to Italy or anywhere with a high Italian presence, you’re probably familiar with prosciutto e melone. If not, then you should know that prosciutto e melone is the combination of cured meat and melon, both of which make up a staple Italian snack that’s been around for centuries. In fact, prosciutto e melone can be traced back to ancient Roman times, when eating hot and dry foods together was a common health practice.
In 2. Century AD, a doctor named Galeno theorized that everyone was made up of four qualities: fire, air, earth, and water. These elements were core parts in the medicinal teachings of Humorism, and were able to be connected to diets that humans ate at the time: warm, cold, dry, and juicy foods, all to correspond to the four balancing elements. If humans wished to avoid falling ill, they had to maintain a balanced diet based around these teachings. As melon was considered highly dangerous at the time due to it being juicy and cold, adding prosciutto’s warm dryness was meant to balance the food and make it safe for consumption.
Naturally, the combination of melon and cured meat became so popular that the recipe survived centuries of world changes.
Why is it so popular?
Take a look at what’s on the market today, and you’ll know how prosciutto e melone survived the years. Chocolate covered pretzels, kettle corn, maple-roasted bacon, french fries dipped in ice cream—humans are drawn to pairing salty foods with sweet ones. The two flavors complement one another deliciously, and prosciutto e melone provides that same flavor combination to those looking for a snack. It doesn’t just have a flavorful combination, though; this snack is also packed with vitamins, fiber, good fats, and protein, making it a refreshingly healthy food option to choose from. It can be enjoyed at lunch, be part of an aperitivo spread, or even be served with dinner.
The best part? There’s no cooking required when preparing this dish. There are only two ingredients, and you can throw them together if you’re in a hurry. You just need a slice of sweet melon (cantaloupe, honeydew, you name it) that’s seedless and rind-free and thinly-sliced prosciutto crudo. Wrap it around the melon slices with the edges of each slice still showing, and it’s ready to serve.