Cantelopes and nutmeg melons are prime favorites as an introductory step to the weightier business of the morning meal. They deserve their popularity.
Cut those of small and medium size in half; scrape out the seeds and put a lump of ice in each half. The larger may be divided into thirds, and a piece of ice laid upon each piece. Pass salt and pepper, also sugar with them. Many epicures prefer to eat them au naturel.
In the late winter or early spring-time, when apples are scarce and dear, and oranges have not yet come to their full plenteous-ness and flavor, the human system needs anti-bilious food. Our foremothers compounded a villainous preventive against spring "humors," of sulphur and molasses, stirred together to a cream and administered before breakfast to each shuddering creature who had pains in the bones, headache and nausea at rising, and a general sensation of good-for-nothingness. "Advanced" matrons added cream of tartar to the villainous preventive, and gave their families to drink of cream-of-tartar lemonade. According to these wise and worthy women, "spring fever" was as inseparable from the opening season as robin song and pussy willow.
Even now, cooling medicines are advised by physicians and believed in by families. The careful student of hygiene, a science the prime principle of which is prevention, and not cure, shows us a more excellent way. The kindly fruits of the earth never merit their name more truly than when winter is going and spring-time is coining; when benevolent bile, balked in its rightful channels, becomes a baleful agency to be fought as an acknowledged foe. In fruit and in succulent vegetables we find our cooling medicines, "indicated" by the great physician, Nature. If fresh fruits be wanting, we must accept substitutes.
Wash, scrape and cut the stalks into inch lengths. Leave in cold water for an hour. Put over the fire in the inner vessel of a double boiler, set in cold water, bring to a boil and simmer gently until tender and clear. Keep the inner vessel closely covered that the steam may do its work. Remove from the fire, sweeten to taste - not heavily - turn into a bowl and cover until cold.
As a breakfast dish, this is refreshing and most wholesome. Cooked as above, you get the benefit of the anti-bilious juices, undiluted by water. Set on ice for an hour before eating. Some add a handful of sultana raisins to the raw rhubarb.
Wash and soak for two hours. Drain, put over the fire with just enough cold water to cover them, and cook tender. Turn out and cover until cold. Put on the ice for an hour before sending to the table. No sugar should be added to prunes when they are to be eaten at breakfast time.
They are slightly laxative and anti-bilious.