This section is from the book "Practical Cooking And Serving", by Janet McKenzie Hill. Also available from Amazon: Practical Cooking and Serving: A Complete Manual of How to Select, Prepare, and Serve Food .
Melons, though eaten as fruit, are in reality vegetables. They belong to the same family as the squash. Among the children of Israel in the wilderness, a cause of murmuring was the lack of cucumbers and melons, for which the people longed. Indeed, the melon, which is one of the earliest known vegetables, seems always to have been much relished. "The Emperor Frederick, of Germany, and Maximilian II were alike so inordinately fond of melons that they both became ultimately victims to the passion." At-water gives 50 per cent, of the muskmelon as waste matter, and of the remaining part 44.8 is water, a most grateful contribution to the summer diet. The nutritive value of melons, represented by the sweet elements, is very small, but they contain no indigestible fibrous matter. The Chinese method of serving melons - that is, half frozen - is well adapted to bring out their delicacy and flavor. Melons are really wholesome only when eaten fresh from the vine, after chilling.
Chill by standing on ice several hours. Cut the ends even, that the halves may stand level, then send to the table cut in halves
crosswise, each half resting on a mat of grape or currant leaves. With a tablespoon scoop out the red pulp in egg-shaped pieces. Serve on chilled plates. The pulp may also be scooped out and sent to the table in half of the shell or in a handsome dish. The pulp from the whole melon will be needed to fill half the shell.
Cut a section, four inches thick, from the centre of a chilled watermelon. Separate the green rind, leaving the edible portion a round of pink melon pulp; place upon a serving-dish of average size. In serving cut in the same manner as a pie.
Cut the chilled melon in halves, crosswise. Let each half rest on a bed of grape leaves, trimming the melon to rest evenly on the dish. Cut triangular sections from the melon, and serve with rind attached.
Scoop out the edible pulp with a tablespoon, remove the seeds, sprinkle with powdered sugar and grated ginger root, turn into the can of the freezer and pack in ice and salt. After standing ten minutes turn the crank gently, for a few moments; repeat several times. Serve half frozen. Avoid turning the crank to crush the pulp.
Cut the edible portion of a chilled melon into small cubes, or take out the pulp in small pieces with a spoon. Mix together half a cup of sugar and a scant teaspoonful of cinnamon; sprinkle this over a quart of melon, toss together and serve from a salad bowl or from a bowl basket fashioned out of the shell from which the pulp was taken.
Chill small melons, cut in halves and remove seeds, but retain the pulp intact. Fill with a chilled mixture of sliced peaches, shredded pineapple, and sections of orange, removed from the membrane and mixed with sugar.
Chill thoroughly, cut in halves and remove seeds. Make half a melon each service. Sugar and cinnamon, or paprika and salt, may be passed in a glass or silver dredger.
Select melons about the size of a large orange. Cut a piece from the top of each to serve as a cover. Pass a short piece of narrow ribbon through slits in this and tie in a bow upon the top, as a means of lifting the cover. Remove the seeds from the melons and chill thoroughly on ice. When ready to serve fill the melons with ice cream, and put the covers in place. Ice cream, flavored with lemon and cinnamon, or with vanilla, and eaten with the pulp of the melon, is considered an agreeable combination. The idea dates back to the first days of the republic, when ice cream was first made in this country.