The ripe sweetness of melons and figs makes a perfect foil for cured Tuscan meats. Prosciutto and melon are the most traditional pairing. The prosciutto should be sliced to an almost transparent thinness so that its flavor does not overpower the delicate melon. Meloni (or poponi, as they are sometimes called in Tuscany) are strictly a summer fruit; out of season, they are expensive and insipid. Figs are undoubtedly the most sensual of all Tuscan fruits, making their short season (late summer, early autumn) all the more precious. Serve with a crisp white wine such as Vermentino di Bolgheri.
12 fresh figs, halved lengthwise
1⁄2 lb. semi-aged Italian salami such as salame toscano, thinly sliced on a slight diagonal
1 large ripe cantaloupe, halved and seeded
6 oz. prosciutto, sliced paper-thin
1 loaf coarse country bread, sliced
Arrange the figs in the center of a large serving platter. Roll each slice of salami into a loose cylinder and place around the figs.
Cut each melon half into 6 wedges, then cut the rind from each wedge. Arrange the melon on the platter. Drape with the slices of prosciutto. Serve with the bread alongside. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, Florence, by Lori de Mori (Oxmoor House, 2004).