Saturday, April 5, 2008

an ode to quince

You will have to forgive my enthusiasm, but it is my ardent opinion that quince are divine. Truly. I think that if a god or gods existed in the traditional embodied sense, that this is the fruit they would have personally created and dined upon. Its flavors are the closest to my concept of nectar and ambrosia that has ever crossed my adventurous palate.

Uncooked, it has a beautiful golden hue that seems almost to glow. If you press your nose to its firm skin, a perfume to rival French Provence in springtime seems to permeate your mind. And it truly is a perfume: this is no mere smell. It brings to mind honey and roses and melting butter and warm sun on an old painted wooden wall and distant spices and a small river after a swollen rain.

To eat them you must cook them. With these two quince given to us by Petra's co-worker, we sliced them and stewed them in a shallow pan, then sautéed them in a light butterscotch reduction. The flesh of the quince, like that of an unripe white pear before cooking, slowly softens and releases its perfume, becoming translucent and then rosy-colored. The gritty grain of the fruit becomes apparent, then dissolves. Eventually you are left with the softest, sweetest, most sublime material to ever melt on your tongue.

I am very thankful for the English sensibilities here that have kept this glorious fruit in the public consciousness and gardens. Let it never be said again that the Brits don't know their food.