Before a week ago, I had never eaten fresh quince. Quince paste? Yes. The faintly sweet, wobbly jelly that most people eat with Manchego has been one of my favorite discoveries of the past few years. It tastes delicate and decadent at the same time. Quince paste, for me, calls up the image of adults sitting around talking, hands leaning into the space above the table, the conversation compelling. But underneath the discussion, each one is having a private moment of joy, that first taste of childhood gummy candy made mature.
(Jujubees never tasted this good.)
Quince paste, easy enough to make, seems ornate, something beyond our reach. But of course, in the Middle East and southern Europe (Spain in particular), quince paste is part of normal life. I love that the world has shifted, that we know each other a little better these days.
But quince? The actual fruit? Nope. It seemed too daunting to dare it. Mostly because the fruit really cannot be eaten raw. It must be gently heated, or vigorously roasted, in order to make it edible. When in doubt, grab an apple instead.
Last week, we were at Sosio’s, our fruit stand in the Market. Our friend Mark pointed out his favorite fruits of the moment, slipping us figs and pointing to the pears. My eyes landed on the greenish-yellow fruits. “Quince?” I called out to the Chef.
Most discoveries come from banal moments, after all.
When he put roasted delicata squash before me, I found slices of luminous green. What?
“Why does this squash taste like apple?”
“Because it’s quince.”
Those roasted slices tasted like crisp apples, with a faint perfume of pears. Here’s the strangest part, for me. I only smelled the perfume in my mouth.
I want more.
Now, the question is: what do you do with quinces? I’m sure we’d all like to know.