Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gucci Fruits for Nuts

I was reading today’s Diario del Yucatán and an article grabbed me. They just auctioned off the first harvest of this season’s Yubari cantaloupes in Hokkaido, Japan. The first two sold for $5,200 US Dollars EACH. Last year the first two canteloupes brought in $23,900 US Dollars. The article said this is a sure sign of the global recession. I am shocked. I knew prices in Japan were ridiculous, but this is beyond absurd. We are talking about the Gucci of the melon world. Here is what burns my ass about this: Some nutcase in Japan paid the equivalent of a year's salary for, say, a typical Indonesian, or even a Chiapaneco(!) to buy one piece of fruit.

I had to know more about this cantaloupe. Is it made of gold? Does it grow a little diamond in its center? NO. It is a simple, supposedly sweeter than usual, and most importantly….perfectly proportioned fruit. It is in fact the perfect summer gift in Japan. If you want to impress your boss, mother-in-law or girlfriend, you give them a cantaloupe, or if on a tight budget just one slice. These canteloupes have been genetically designed to be perfectly shaped and, well, just perfect! Just like the Japanese themselves!

Only the first melons sell for the high price…once the Japanese Agriculture Association grades the rest of the crop, they sell in the supermarkets for a mere $100-500 US dollars EACH. In Hawaii I rarely ate cantaloupe because one piece of fruit, not necessarily sweet or ripe since they are all imported from mainland USA, cost around $10 US. I thought that was exorbitant. This is other worldly.

Yubari Muskmelon intended as a high-priced gift.

Now let’s talk about watermelon. The black, almost square, Densuke watermelons sold at the Hokkaido auction last year for $6,100 US Dollars each. From what I can find online, the watermelon auction will take place next month, so I will keep an eye on the news. We can follow the global financial trends via fruit sales in Japan. The black watermelon is also a near perfect fruit, thus another great option for those “summer gifts” (?)..and available at the supermarket for a mere $300 US.

Time bomb? No, black Densuke watermelon. Ripe and ready for sucking up to your boss!

Here in the Yucatán we eat lots of melons. I don’t remember how much they cost per kilo, but the cost didn't make an impression on me so I think they are within most folks' budgets. You can get a sandía (watermelon) juice or melón (canteloupe) juice practically anywhere for under a dollar. We have the Mennonites who provide us with fresh tasty canteloupes as well as nice cheeses. The fruits may not be perfectly round, but I would rather eat an imperfect melon every day, than to think I had to wait for someone to give me a summer gift. Six thousand dollars for a piece of fruit? Just fork over the cash. I’ll eat papaya.


Theresa in Mèrida said...

We need to get into the perfect fruit business! I understand that the reason pitaya is so expensive is because it's shipped to Japan where they sell for two to three times what they go for here.
Please pass the papaya.

Merida Mikey said...

I've never paid $300.00 for a piece of anytthing! Especially a fruit!

Leave it to the Japanese! If you've got the "yen" for a piece of fruit, and you are willing to pay the going price, go for it!

Linda Dorton said...

Hey, yesterday at Chedraui the watermelon was 5.40 pesos per kilo, or 33 US cents per pound. The canteloupe was 8.65 per lb, or 18 US cents per lb. I am enjoying both! At prices I can afford. They are sweet and delicious, but I must admit the canteloupe was NOT perfectly round.