Singing cantaloupe’s praises in a refreshing sparkler

Leah Eskin
Chicago Tribune

Cantaloupe means singing wolf. Not the scene that jumps to mind when slicing open the dazzling melon. And yet, no secret. Slice open the word to find canta, “sing” in many a language, and loupe, “wolf.”

Apparently the melon is named after a town, which is named after the wolves who once serenaded its hills.

Perhaps they were howling to that other orange orb, the moon. Perhaps they were singing of lost love, of melancholy. Perhaps they were praising the tasty fruit balls that littered the ground.

Lovely, they must have yelped, and sweet.

Cantaloupe is too bright, too fragrant, too cheerful to induce melancholy. Still, it’s good to know the melon has a poetic past. And — even in fall — a few more weeks of delicious future.

Melon Sparkler

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 2 minutes

Makes: 3 drinks

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup honey

4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 very ripe cantaloupe, about 2 pounds

Sparkling water

1 tablespoon heavy cream, optional

Dissolve: Measure water and honey into a small saucepan or microwave-safe cup. Heat over medium until honey has dissolved, about 2 minutes, or microwave until honey has dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice. Let cool.

Peel: Wash and dry cantaloupe. Using a sharp knife, halve cantaloupe along its equator. Scoop out seeds. Set melon halves, flat-side down, on a cutting board. Working from top to bottom, slice away the rind, exposing the bright orange melon.

Juice: Cut melon into chunks, and drop them in the blender. Pour in honey mixture. Blend on low speed. (High speed yields more froth than juice.) Press through a fine mesh sieve; discard pulp. You should have about 2 cups juice. Chill.

Mix: For each drink, fill a glass with crushed ice. Fill two-thirds with melon juice and one-third with sparkling water. If you like, add about 1 teaspoon heavy cream. Stir. Slurp.