In the 1980s, some large-scale French melon growers, lured by the promise of ideal weather conditions, cheap labor, and an early harvest, established charentais farms on the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. These melons are considered almost as good as the originals, but for whatever reasons—poor agricultural practices, premature harvest, shipping problems—the same cannot be said for most of those grown in Spain, Italy, Israel, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. Flavor may improve as growers and shippers gain experience. In the meantime, though, the imports do have commercial advantages: When I asked the manager of a noted Manhattan gourmet store why he was selling second-rate charentais from Costa Rica, he replied, "Real charentais are so fragile. You look at them, they spoil."