There are a few common varieties of cucumbers. And if you read fat plant seed catalogs, you will realize that there are quite a number of uncommon cucumbers. The chief characteristic of the cucumber is its crisp, juicy flesh. There is also a fresh vegetal flavor unique to the cucumber. And in many cases there is also a bitter flavor.
I have been told that if one cuts the stem end off a cucumber and rubs that stem end around on the flat end, a white milky sap will come out of the cucumber and that this will eliminate the bitter bite of a cucumber. When I have done this, I have not been bothered by bitterness of the vegetable.
Americans typically slice cucumbers. But a lot of people find that the simple flesh is much more delicious than the seed part. Some vegetable cookbooks have one split the vegetable and scrape out the seeds. On a recent Julia and Jacques show I saw Pepin just peel a long cucumber, then keep right on peeling. The long strips produced by the peeler he used to garnish homemade salmon lox. Since it is hard to slice cucumber too thinly, this seems like a very sensible approach, especially for long cucumbers. This show suggests also that the cucumber is the perfect vegetal foil to fish.
There are a handful of places in which the cucumber is the perfect food. There is a Greek dish and an Indian dish in which it is mixed with yogurt. This mixture is a must-have item to go with gyros, the dish made from roasted ground beef and lamb. And it is definitely good with lox, capers & onions. There are salad dishes where small dice of cucumbers, ripe tomatoes, and parsley work well together, perhaps with onion. And cucumbers are ideal for pickles. Finally, I think one could make a profoundly refreshing soup of cucumber and shaved ice, with perhaps a little mint or dill or lemon.