unfamiliar melon varieties, Melonade

Family Portrait
Melons, watermelons and horned melons (all from the same family as cucumbers) are distinct fruits. Melons are notorious crossbreeders--plant different varieties in close proximity and you'll soon have hybrids. Melon seeds are concentrated in the fruit's cavity, while watermelon seeds are dispersed throughout the flesh. Horned melons look great but don't have the flavor to match: Use them only as a garnish.

Melon News
Next to the honeydew and cantaloupe in the produce aisle, you may see these unfamiliar melon and watermelon varieties: Charentais A very pretty melon--small and striated, with dense, satiny orange flesh and a flowery aroma. This melon was originally from France but is now grown here too. Cavaillon Also from France, this small fruit with its gray-green rind and blue-green stripes has deep-salmon flesh. Its intense sweetness and honey-citrus flavor make it arguably the world's best melon. Galia Dense, white-green flesh with a honeyed flavor and spicy aroma; originally from Israel. Orange honeydew Combines the best of honeydew and cantaloupe--the flesh has the texture and color of a cantaloupe but tastes like a honeydew. Sharlyn White-green flesh tinted coral near the seeds, with a creamy texture and a hint of vanilla in the flavor. Watermelon The new ones are yellow, orange, even white inside.

Melons & Health
Melons and watermelons are primarily carbohydrates and water, but eat a slice and you'll get significant amounts of soluble fiber, folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C. The orange-fleshed melons are especially good sources of vitamin A. Cantaloupe in particular is a vitamin powerhouse: A quarter melon has as much C as an orange (lighter-fleshed and green-fleshed melons have about half as much). As for watermelons, they deliver a cancer-fighting substance called lycopene. Plus all melons and watermelons are low in calories (1 cup of diced honeydew has just 60 calories) and virtually fat free.

Fruity Beauty
Carbaline Bubble Bath is part of this Verona, Italy-based beauty company's line of products available in a pleasant melon scent ($17 for 8.4 ounces at Lafco New York; 800-362-3677). Prescriptives Potion is a fruity-floral fragrance with the uplifting aromas of watermelon, mandarin, hyacinth and lotus flower ($45 for 1.7 ounces at Nordstrom; 800-723-2889). Mistral Sels de Bain, from Provence, are delicately scented bath salts laced with a mellow melon-pear fragrance ($16 for 22.6 ounces; 866-647-8725). Carbaline Vegetal Soap in Melon is handmade with plant extracts that create a creamy, rich lather ($7.50 for 7 ounces). Melon has made its way into spa treatments as well. At the Maruba Resort Jungle Spa near Belize City, Belize, the Anti-Aging Facial includes a massage with chunks of cool, fresh cantaloupe and papaya. Since cantaloupe is rich in vitamins C and beta-carotene, thought to slow the visible signs of aging in skin, the hope is that the treatment will help skin appear smoother (800-627-8227).
--Leesa Suzman