Melons are a refreshing treat in the heat of summer, and fragrant, sweet cantaloupes are in abundance right now at the market. But are they cantaloupes, or are they muskmelons?
While we use the names interchangeably, the melon we buy at the grocery store is technically a reticulated muskmelon and not a cantaloupe at all.
A true cantaloupe is a European melon that is not exported to the United States. Cantaloupe does sound more sophisticated than muskmelon, and it definitely sounds better that anything that has been reticulated but that’s what we have.
The two stories behind how the name cantaloupe came to be are equally intriguing. One story has the name coming from the Italian village Catalupo after seeds were planted there in the papal garden. The only problem is that Italy has seven towns with that name and France has one.
The other story is that Pope Paul II had a country estate in the hills of Cantalupo di Sabina and developed an obsession for the melons. Unfortunately for the Pope, he ate two large melons on an empty stomach at one sitting and later died.
Whatever you choose to call it and whichever story you believe, you can just call it good. It’s loaded with Vitamins A and C along with calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. It also has a good amount of fiber and is loaded with antioxidants.
When choosing a melon, pick it up; it should be heavy for its size and the blossom end should yield to gentle pressure.
Eat it plain, blend it in a smoothie or toss it in a salad, but just to be safe, don’t eat it on an empty stomach.