Catching up with ‘Mr.Canteloupe’

The cantaloupe hits the big time during its peak June through October. Believed to be a native of Asia he currently resides in warm and sunny California.  New in our town and only playing for these few weeks of summer, Cantaloupe is currently starring at your local produce department in “Fruit Cup” where he has teamed up with Honeydew and Watermelon.

Rich in vitamins A and C and potassium, and containing a fair amount of niacin and iron, he’s America’s answer to a sweet bargain for any dieter.  Half of a 5-inch melon provides the day’s requirement for vitamins A and C and has only 82 calories.  An incredible 825 milligrams of potassium along with low levels of sodium and fat, makes it the perfect treat for those concerned with blood pressure.

He’s everywhere you look but unfortunately he is still confined to bit parts such as this Scenario:  For many Americans, the fourth of July means fireworks, parades, picnics and watermelon.

I caught up with Mr. Cantaloupe backstage at Safeway’s produce bin.

Q. The fact that watermelon is still number one at picnics, does that make you bitter?

A. Who me? I’m not bitter, I’m sweet.  Ask HoneyDew.  Between you and me I’d say she was a little green with jealousy.

Q. You and Honeydew were linked romantically for years.  Is it all over between you?

A. We will always have our differences. But she is well loved, served plain or fancy.

Q. The melon is a vegetable that is eaten as a fruit.  Melons belong to the Curcurbitaceae botanical group that is also called the gourd family.

A. Yeah, what is your point?

Q. Well, some could say you are quite rotund.

A. Big Deal. Look at Watermelon. He’s HUGE.

Q. Well, no offense, but you are very difficult to tell when you are ripe.

A. Puh-leeze.  Number one, a ripe cantaloupe has a characteristic sweet and delicate odor. If it’s not fragrant, leave it at room temperature for a few days to ripen.  A well-rounded, much better word than rotund I might add, melon should have a depressed smooth scar at the stem end and a slight softness when pressed at the bottom end.

Q. You do have a lot of seeds inside of you.

A. Implausible that some people think shaking my seeds around means I am ripe. You estimate a good melon by checking my underbelly.

Q. Your underbelly?

A. Of course, that is the part that rested on the ground when I was growing.  A pale yellow color indicates a ripe, flavorful melon. Green areas may be under ripe.

Q. They say you are delicious snack as well as an appetizer, dessert, or a main meal.

A. All that stuff, yeah. I’m really well rounded in that you can make dinner by scooping chicken salad inside my beautiful orange flesh or top me with ice cream.  I have even been know to be peeled, sliced, and tossed with berries.

Q. You know a very good treat on a hot summer day is to puree cantaloupe and make it into a sorbet.

A. You think so? I personal think that people are too quick to gobble me as a snack and not appreciate the fact that I can come to the table as a gourmet meal.

Q. How so?

A. Psst, come a little closer and I’ll tell ya. You know that cute little peach over there? She and I have been known to be good together.  Peel one peach and cube 1/4 melon, sprinkle with lemon juice. Place in blender with 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, grate an orange rind for a little zest, just a pinch or so, and my favorite part, 1/4 cup white wine.  Puree until smooth.  Add a little sugar to your taste.  Serve cold and you have a melon soup for one.  Use your good china naturally.

Q. You may be a bit player, but your character will never go out of style.

A. Nah. I am here for the long run.  Hey, you see rhubarb over there? We were never a good match.  I think it had something to do with the fact she wasn’t well rounded enough.  How about you introduce me to that red heart plum…

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