cantaloupe, cucumber and jicama salad

my craze with food began around 1970 with the first of 40 years of trips to visit friends and family in and around san francisco. it coincided with alice waters' mothering of the organic food movement and her development of california cuisine. i was just across the bay from berkely's gourmet ghetto when vegetarian cooking was presented to me as a type of cuisine, not just an anti-meat choice. it was where i first ate an artichoke, fermented tofu, sea vegetables, and jicama. i was charmed with foods that i found strange, amusing, and incomparable to what i had ever eaten in the midwest.
      i remember being handed a large turnip-looking root with the skin of ginger when i asked if i could help in my sister-in-law's family kitchen near woodside. my instructions were to peel it, and cut the potatoey-flesh into strips. "what is this thing?" after which i was told, "a crunchy root from mexico for the salad". 
       it was love at first bite when i chewed into my first taste of jicama: snappy, crisp, clean and apple-sweet. like many other taste memories i brought back home, the new ingredient added to my developing intrigue with cooking, and what is possible with the combination of bright flavors.
this salad began with a jicama root in my market basket. i added a perfectly ripe cantaloupe, and a purple onion . . .
to that i added radish bean sprouts, pea shoots, yellow bell pepper, cucumber . . .
and, a lush, tart disk of chévre cheese.
ingredients (serves 4)
• 1 ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
• 1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1 med. jicama root, peeled, and cut into strips
• 1 purple onion, thinly sliced
• 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
• a few handfuls of pea sprouts
• 1 bunch of radish bean sprouts
• the juice of 1 small lemon
• about 1/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar
• about 1/2 cup of olive oil
• sea salt
• pinch of cayenne
• 4 wedges of chévre cheese
• fresh pepper, finely cracked
1. layer the prepared cantaloupe, cucumber, jicama, onion, bell pepper and greens on a plate.
2. whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and cayenne.
3. add a wedge of chévre to the plate and drizzle the dressing over the salad and cheese. finish with a fresh twist of cracked pepper.

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