My bitter melon-growing Professor


This summer I was unexpectedly blessed with plenty of fruits, namely bitter melon. Bitter melon is called goya or nigauri in Japanese, and we, Indonesians, call it pare. My kind and loving grandmother liked this warty fruit. After indulging herself on a weekly Friday shopping at the only traditional market in our hometown, she sometimes brought bitter melon home. Bitter melon is certainly not every kid’s favorite food for its obvious strike of bitter taste. But my granny had a way to cook it tenderly in tongue-twistingly delicious coconut gravy, or simply stir-fried and mixed with chili sauce. If not for her effort introducing me to bitter melon, I would never appreciate this acquired delicacy.

My granny and my Professor share common fondness in bitter melon. My dear Professor admittedly make an effort to grow bitter melon every summer as green shades around his house. As for how to care for it, he is indeed an authorized person. Before going to medical school, he managed to get a bachelor degree in agriculture (maybe he had an idea of “growing your own medicine” at that time, who knows). When the times come to harvest, he would cheerfully bring these green fellows to the lab, like a mother and her handsome newborn son, and boast of the freshness of his organic home-grown bitter melons and urge us (in most cases, the only student; me) to take them home. They are good for you, plenty of vitamins, he would say. If you look it up in Wikipedia, you would stumble on the facts that bitter melon actually contains anti-viral, anti-inflammation, anti-malarial, anti-diabetic, and several other compounds.

Naturally, I would accept his green gifts gratefully at the first week. I would slice and stir-fry them in loving memory of my granny. I would mix them with beaten eggs, the way I’ve seen served by a friend. I would add chopped shrimp and leek to add more flavor. I asked my friends around how they cook their bitter melon, hoping would find a new way to enjoy it. However, by the end of the second week, I began to wonder what was I going to do with a bag of bitter melons the Professor gave me every other day. And up to the third week I have already wished that some bitter melon-addicted bugs will ferociously feast on my Professor’s green shades!. I was simply overwhelmed by his kindness. Dear Professor, may God bless you a heaven full of bitter melons 🙂 .

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