Sunday 21 February 2016

Ted and the only child

... the only child I might add that is purported to have been responsible for starting the Trojan War and according to some historians, may in fact have been the real "golden apple” in the Garden of Eden that led Eve into temptation and the naughty pleasures of the flesh ... and the rest as they say "is history"...

So … any guesses then c’mon … oh ok … it’s a Quince. But an only child Ted?? Yep the quince is the sole member of the Cydonia genus in the Rosacea family – it has loads and loads of family cousins like apples, pears, plums, apricots, cherries, and almonds ... even raspberries are a member of this extended family. The little thorns on raspberry canes are easy to spot but look carefully at the branches of older traditional varieties of other members of this family and you’ll find something similar there as well.

Quinces have clearly been around for a very very long time!!! Purported to be native to the Middle East the quince is recorded as a very popular ingredient in ancient Greek, Roman, and Persian recipes. It will happily naturalise anywhere around the world where it can find a fertile, warm, and sunny spot, and they have no problem co-habiting with their cousins in the corner of an orchard somewhere. They were once very popular in British cuisine and even get an honourable mention in Edwards Lear’s 1871 famous literary piece The Owl and Pussycat – “they dined on mince and slices of quince which they ate from a runcible spoon”. I looked up runcible spoons and they are a very cool piece of cutlery and I want some … but I digress.

The quince is somewhat of an enigmatic fruit, with all but three very rare varieties actually being
edible raw, and then only when fully tree ripened.  It must be cooked to reveal its best, by changing its tough, astringent, and bitter flesh into a sweet and succulent beauty the colour of an orangey pink winter sunset. While it seems to have fallen from favour in mainstream British cuisine the quince is still very much a stalwart of European and middle eastern cooking, where it brings its gorgeous colour, subtle rose flavoured honey sweetness and texture to compliment meats like pork, chicken and lamb. In Spain they make the famed “membrillo” which is a quince paste that goes exceeding well with cheese – any and all cheeses in my humble opinion..


Sharon said...

I've tasted that quince paste with cheese and you are right, it goes very well. I've never had it cooked with meat but, I bet that's good too!

William Kendall said...

I can't recall ever hearing of it before.

Nathalie H.D. said...

Aaaaaah what a post!
Quinces grow here, and they're traditionally planted as hedges because they act as fences thanks to their prickly branches.

My mother used to make quince paste and jelly but we never serve it with cheese in France, rather as a dessert.

And best of all, I learned about runcible spoons, thanks !

Jack said...

Where does Ted learn all of this stuff? There was a quince on my West Hartford yard when I bought the place, but I renovated that part of the yard a couple of years ago and the quince was pulled out.

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