A refreshing soup with cantaloupes
The cantaloupe is the most popular variety of melon. Little wonder, for it has a refreshingly rich flavour and aroma, and minimal calories.
In reality, the fruit that we call the cantaloupe is actually a musk melon. The real cantaloupe is a different species of melon that is mostly grown in France.
The cantaloupe derives its name from the Italian papal village of Cantalup, where it was first cultivated around 1700 A.D. It belongs to the same family as the cucumber, squash, pumpkin and gourd, and like many of its relatives, grows on the ground on a trailing vine.
Cantaloupes range in colour from orange-yellow to salmon and have a soft and juicy texture with a sweet, musky aroma that emanates through the melon when ripe.
The key to purchasing a good quality melon is to find one that is ripe, sometimes a challenge because they are often picked while still unripe. Here's how you pick the right fruit: If you tap the melon with the palm of your hand and hear a hollow sound, the melon has passed the first test.
Choose a melon that seems heavy for its size, and one that does not have bruises or overly soft spots.
The area where the stem was attached should be smooth and slightly indented, free from remnants of the stem. The opposite end should be slightly soft.
And, you should be able to smell the fruit's sweetness; however, an overly-strong smell may indicate an over-ripe, fermented fruit.
Cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C. It is also a very good source of potassium and dietary fibre.
If you or someone you love is a smoker, or if you are frequently exposed to second-hand smoke, making vitamin A-rich foods, such as cantaloupe, part of your diet is beneficial.
Now, for a recipe.
Cantaloupe and Cinnamon Soup
Cantaloupe: 1 (ripe, medium-size)
Lime juice: 2 tbsp
Fresh mint: Some sprigs
Orange juice: 100 ml
Salt: To taste
Pepper powder: To taste
De-seed melon and cube the pulp.
Puree pulp and cinnamon. Strain.
Combine orange and lime juices and stir into the puree. Chill and serve garnished with mint.
Chef de Partie, Taj Connemara