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Recipe overleaf.

The hotter months bring

those big round fruits to

our tables, and smiles

to our faces, which by

that time may need to

be wiped clean from dripping juices of

this luscious summertime treat. You need

no more than a knife to open up these

beauties, then you can literally pass round

the slices and get down to business,

gnawing the flesh from the rind. The slices

are even shaped like a smile.

Melons have been around a long time,

originating in Africa, spread around their

empire by the Romans, with melon seeds

taken to the Americas with the settlers. As

a result, many areas now have a specific

variant of melon to call their own. There's

even a winter melon, which goes by

many names such as winter gourd, ash

gourd, white or tallow gourd or Chinese

preserving melon. It is more widely used

in cooking, particularly in Asia. In India,

where it's know as the ash gourd, it is

recognized for its medicinal properties in

the Ayurvedic system of medicine.

A melon is any of various plants of

the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes

cucumber, pumpkin and squash.

Botanically, a melon is a kind of berry,

specifically a 'pepo'.

Best from May to August in the

UK, the main ones we know here are

the honeydew, galia, watermelon and

canteloup. Low in calories, there's some

carb content, with the canteloup being

more sugary than the watermelon but

generally all are of a medium glycaemic

index, so pretty good for people with

diabetes though eat in moderation as it

will raise your blood glucose. These fruits

are low in sodium, calories and fat and are

cholesterol free. The natural sweetness

could curb cravings for sugary foods

and high calorie sweets. Watermelon,

in particular, is good for weight loss as

a whole cup provides just 48 calories.

An extra benefit of melon is that's it's

supposed to be good for the skin, as it

contains collagen, plus the vitamins it

contains are skin-healthy. You can literally

cut slices to lay on your skin and relax for

a while before rinsing off, leaving your skin

with a healthy glow.

Classic combo

Flavour-wise, melon works well with mint,

ginger and cucumber. As very big berries

themselves, melons also work well with

strawberries and raspberries. Melons can

be used for granitas and sorbets, but for

those you'd be adding in sugar, which

seems a shame when they are fairly sweet

to begin with. Food writer Diana Henry

recalls having had a charentais melon (a

type of French canteloup) with its hollow

filled with raspberries or ice-cold muscat,

which both sound rather lovely. You can

even make a pickle from watermelon rind,

boiling it until it is transparent with sugar

and flavours like ginger or lemon then

preserving in glass jars.

Melon with Parma ham is a traditional

Italian appetizer, known simply as

'prosciutto melone'. Two basic, simple

ingredients can be dressed up to look

great. Either slice melon into thin slices

and wrap with a thin sheet of Parma ham,

or you can cut the melon into squares

and wrap those, or even make melon Nutritional content

of Melon (averages)

balls and skewer those with a little bit of

folded ham, and you can add on a small

ball of mozzarella or even some fig. Invert

the whole idea and you can line a bowl

with the Parma ham and fill it with small

cubes of melon and rocket, basil or mint

Per 100g, calories 36, no fat, no

cholesterol, teeny bits of potassium, 10g of carbs, little bit of

fibre. Melons have a whopping

big dose of Vitamin C (30% RDA

and Vitamin B-6 (5% RDA).


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