Here in Ontario, the peaches are still in season, but now the equally luscious and slurpworthy Ontario cantaloupes are ready to be eaten. Some of you may be surprised to learn that it is warm enough to grow melons in Canada, but I assure you it is!
The name "cantaloupe" comes from the Italian Cantalupo, the name of a former country seat of the Pope near Rome, where the fruit is said to have been first cultivated when introduced from Armenia. Apparently what we call a cantaloupe in North America should actually be called a muskmelon, since a true cantaloupe is a different variety of melon, but I doubt that decades of usage will change on this.
The Diner's Dictionary has this to say about the term "muskmelon":
by Elizabethan times native melons were being grown, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they became one of the most important products of the gentry's hothouses. They were usually known generically as musk melons (as distinct from water melons)—a not particularly appropriate term, probably adopted from an oriental variety of melon (in Dutch, the muscus-meloen) which really did have a scent reminiscent of musk.According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, the spelling "cantaloupe" is more common than "cantaloup" in Canada.
Continuing with the tradition of "Recipes from the Word Lady" that I started with my scone posting , here's a recipe for Cantaloupe Cake that I just tried for the first time this weekend when confronted with a very ripe 2.5kg melon. It was very yummy!
1/2 c. oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 c (400 g) white or whole-wheat flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
Add dry ingredients alternately to egg mixture with
2 c. pureed ripe cantaloupe.
Pour into a large greased and floured tube pan or Bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 50 minutes. Let cool till lukewarm. Turn out and dust with icing sugar.
* Since cantaloupes vary in juiciness you may want to start with 2 1/2 cups flour and add more if the batter looks too runny.
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