The Melon (cantaloupe) October 05 2016, 0 Comments
Every summer, piles of gold are sold in Cavaillon, a charming town of Provence. The gold in question is not the precious metal measured in carats but the melon measured in kilos: a succulent and intense golden globe worldly recognized as the town treasure.
The golden fruit has been part of local history for at least five centuries. Initially Melons were raised in the country gardens of the popes, in Cantelupo, near Rome.
Legend says that they were introduced within the Cavaillon area from Italy in the 14th century by the popes, who lived in nearby Avignon. The highest representatives of the Catholic Church consumed melons! Currently, one of the glories of Provence is the Cavaillon melon which is also known as Cantaloupe in reference of its origins.
Among the admirers of the delicious melons of Cavaillon was the writer and “bon-vivant” Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers …)
In 1864, the new municipal library asked popular French writers to donate some of their works.
Dumas responded promptly. He donated all of his published works to Cavaillon and promised to send a copy of all his future publications as well. The condition was: a life annuity, of twelve melons a year.
The town was delighted to grant Dumas his request, and until his death in 1870, a dozen melons were delivered every summer at his home.
The growing period of the Cavaillon Melon last from May to September. With its green skin and orange flesh, this sweet and juicy fruit enjoys the 300 days of sunshine of Provence. It is harvested by hand to avoid any damage. During summer you will find it everywhere : markets, roadside stalls, stores, etc. The city of Cavaillon is deeply attached to the Melon culture. It dominates the market square. Melon paintings are exhibited in the streets, a communal banquet upon melon theme is held under the plane trees. You can book excursion’s tour to visit the local melon farms. Moreover, pastry chefs and chocolatiers come up with the most imaginative melon specialty and you can taste unique creation that you won’t find anywhere else!
There are several tests you can apply to choose a melon, here are some easy tips:
Take a look : A melon should have spotless skin, with green stripes marking its segments.
Pick it up: a good Melon of Cavaillon should be heavy, you should feel it gorged with sugary juice and flesh when you hold it. The heavier is the fruit, the better is the taste. Touch the skin and be sure to avoid any soft or weak area that would reveal a probable impact on it.
Examine its “tail”: The stalk (le pécou) should be loose and easy to pull off. It should be thick and green which means that the melon of Cavaillon has been picked within the last three days.
Smell it: The stalk of Melon of Cavaillon should be richly perfumed.
The Cantaloupe hold an important part in our Calisson, After going through a candying process, it will become one of the main ingredient with the almond. It is the melon that gives our calisson its rich golden color.
Calissons by Gilles is now available in Canada through Amazon. Tell your Canadian friends and family!
About The Author:
Gilles Cailleaux is the Owner & Master Confectioner at By Gilles, an online French candy store based in Orange County, California. They sell traditional French confections called Calissons from Provence. Gilles is always ready to share his 25 years plus experience of candy making and baking with everyone and want to hear about your experience with his calissons. Gilles and his team are sensitive about taste and harmony. They prepare your packages with special care and attention.