The history between Cavaillon and melon dates back to the 15th Century.
This lined melon, which is the oldest variety, is a slightly oblong shape with greenish peel covered in anarchical lines.
Around 1495, the Cantaloup variety, so called as it was originally grown in Cantaloupo (the popes' place of residence, not far from Rome) established itself on Papal soil in Cavaillon, where it was grown until the 20th century. Like the artichoke or the peach, melon was considered a rare fruit up until the end of the 18th century. Its cultivation was given special treatment and many precautions were taken. Plots of land were reserved and carefully monitored.
By 1882, the area of land given over to melon production was one fifth of all market garden crop farming.
In 1825, producers began to grow a new variety of melon with smooth skin and well pronounced ribbing. Rumours about this variety, which still contribute to the reputation of Cavaillon today, very quickly spread to Paris. Even Alexandre Dumas, on receiving a request from Cavaillon library for some of his works to improve their collections, responded - not without humour and opportunism - that he would gladly accept in return for 12 melons a year for the rest of his life (his request was, of course, accepted). Since 1988, a brotherhood of Knights of the Order of the Melon of Cavaillon have been in charge of promoting the fruit.
The melon can be prepared in a number of different ways, and it allows chefs to let their imagination run away with them as they invent new flavours. Some melon dishes are truly mouth-watering, for example Cavaillon sorbet with 'calissons', melon soup spiced with basil, crystallised melon salad and cured ham, hot or cold melon with Sabayon (light sweet sauce), etc. Melon can also be found in pastries, chocolates, ice creams, sorbets, cakes, bread and marzipan. It is also enjoyed with certain spirits, fine wines and aperitifs.
This refreshing fruit is promoted by the Knights of the Order of the Cavaillon Melon.© GRAPHICOBSESSION
Every year in July, the town organises a full blown festival to celebrate this cucurbitaceous fruit.© Margouillat / 123RF
Melon can be enjoyed in a number of ways: on its own, of course, but also in salads, soups, and sorbets... It is even one of the ingredients in 'calissons' (almond and marzipan sweets) from Aix en Provence.© Margouillat / 123RF
Its unique scent wafts through the markets of Provence.© Margouillat / 123RF