Must I confess that I am not an aficionado of Cucumbers. Mostly I do find them rather blend and watery but it is for those two aspects /qualities that they are so precious culinary wise.
Cucumbers can conterbalance somewhat Spicy food. Against too much heat you can remain 'As Cool as a Cucumber' if one may say so by eating some.
If the Cucumber is not my Veg of choice, I nonetheless see its purpose, especially in Summer. Let's ask the simple question, how to make a Salad feel fresh within seconds? Answer: add a Cucumber to it, sliced for style, diced to dip in the water cooler taste.
I do feel somewhat like an old lady now, with my body not responding so well, but women twice my age gave me the wink that I was still a baby in their views. I won't and I can't argue with that. Given a Cucumber Sandwich once over Tea Time in the midst of Summer made me appreciate that Vegetable even more.
Now one of the first recipes I learnt in my first few months in the UK was Tzatziki. It is like dipping your finger in the dip/depth of history. Cucumber has been used for thousands of years in India. It did spread around the world but like all fashion the old Cucumber did have its up and downs. When on the reign of Roman Emperor Tiberius, he wanted to eat a Cucumber a day, a few centuries later the fashion to eat Cucumber was gone to reappear again with the British Empire and its monopoly upon India.
The Cucumber Sandwich is a classic exemple. But eating Indian Food became also popular with the first Indian Restaurant 'Indoostanee Coffee House' opening its door in 1810 in Mayfair. Spicy food meant that the Cucumber was back on trend to cool the palate of those not yet fully used to it.
I must confess that it was a little of my experience arriving in the UK. I wasn't used to Indian Food. Tzatziki offered me the chance to be able to adapt my palate to it. This is as simple as the A-B-C. I enjoyed how fresh it did feel, it was a little like a palate cleanser.
Now I must also say that I do like Cucumber within a Salad in Summer and I do not find it that it is just a garnish, I find it simply refreshing, soft and with a crunchy give in the same time. If that does make sense.
I discovered the use of Cucumber as a Side rather than within a Dip or a Salad quite late to be honest. As the taste of Cucumber is rather understated and that it does go well with Spicy food, it also does go very well as a Side with Fish and Shellfish, spiced or not. The Cucumber does not overwhelm the delicate flesh of Seafood. It does rather compliment it.
Having grown Cucumbers and members of the family of the Cucurbits, I will say this, they are fascinating to watch growing. Like Peas and Beans they do have tendrills to grab or catch any support to promote or help their growth. I have spent almost 15 minutes at a time watching that process. If I am not David Attenborough speaking about the world of Plants, I dare to say that patience is rewarding to witness nature in motion even slow motion. I have a video of a Cucamelon plant on You Tube, moving ever so slowly to get its hold upon a stick. I just stood there amazed of witnessing it all and capturing it all.
As for Cucamelons I used them as refreshing Cocktail Snacks which were very welcolmed but a talking point as well.