But ask yourself what these countries have in common? Hot climates? Soaring temperatures, especially in the summer? Yes... Well done! Cucumber and yoghurt are both reputed to cool body temperature, so it is commonly served with most meals, summer or winter time. Although we dont really chew on the skin like you Brits do, we peel them. But the one part of cucumber prep i feel is not just odd, but almost sacrilegious... and that is the needless scooping out and discarding of the soft pulpy centre of the cucumber. WHY?????!!!! What kind of madness is this? I have heard all kinds of pathetic excuses for this "It makes it too watery", "It tastes bitter"... And i say RUBBISH. If anything, i feel the cucumber is more dull and becomes a one dimensional texture without it. Don't do it!
So the phrase "Cool as a Cucumber" must have come from somewhere, eh? Indeed. So what can you do to make it more exciting? Well apart from my suggestions for Iranian salads, how about a nice Greek Salad? Olives, feta, tomatoes, cucumbers and some dried mint... so simple and so delicious with a lemon dressing. Or for those who like a bit of spice, Thai chicken or beef salad? Take a cooked chicken breast or rare-seared steak, sliced into thin strips (no exacting here, do what you like) and peel half a cucumber, half it length ways and cut thick strips the size of your little finger, using half a peeled red onion, slice them thinly into half moons and add some chopped coriander and mix it all into a bowl, adding the juice of a whole lime, 2 large tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce (and some fresh chilli if you like) and a couple of drops of sesame oil and serve with some salad leaves or some nice Basmati rice.
So don't neglect the humble cucumber this summer, its so underrated and could do with a revival, especially with the hot summer ahead. Its cheap and cheerful and makes a great snack and if the large ones arent your thing, your local Turkish, Middle Eastern or Iranian supermarkets sell delightful little mini cucumbers that are wonderfully sweet and can be eaten with the skin on. Iranians like to take a bite and season with salt and take another bite (repeating until it disappears!!!)
Cucumbers also appear on many cocktail lists in top bars throughout the world... Great with alcohol (think Pimms!) again because of its cooling properties, cucumber 'water' is made and mixed to perfection with Vodka and the like. Yummy! If booze isnt your thing, whizz half a peeled cucumber with 2 apples and a handful of juicy strawberries and also raspberries and you have a delicious summer fruit cocktail! No hefty price tag either, just because it came from some Hippy Organic Juice Bar!
All that is left to tell you is to take whichever cocktail you like, into the sun-filled garden, baste yourself with suntan lotion, taking 2 slices of cucumber with you and place them on your eyes and bake yourself in the sun until your nice and golden brown!!! And if you go lobster red? Slice cucumber length ways and apply to sunburnt areas for instant relief! Coooooooooooooool!!!!