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The Fruit Formally Known As Quince
I had seen it at the market for years. It would show up sometime before Halloween and leave in the early spring after St. Patrick’s Day. With yellow skin and a knobby shape, it appeared in need of a shave. It always seemed so ancient. Like a renaissance era still life painting - come to life. I would always ask the grower, what it was (even though I knew) just to confirm, it was, what it was; a quince.
And that would be that. I would acknowledge its existence, but would tread no further in acquiring knowledge about its uses. It was always described as difficult. You have to cook it before you eat it. It takes a long time to cook. It’s really hard to cut. On and on went the warnings with this fruit! I couldn’t let it go.
Why? Why was this much maligned fruit still around if it was such a royal pain?
After much soul searching I finally took my little knobby yellow friend home.
After processing and cooking it with sugar and water my little yellow friend turned a spectacular pink! It was like magic! (There is actually a very dry scientific reason for what happens when you heat up this extremely tannic fruit, so lets just stick to the “magic” explanation.)
Then I tasted it. This was indeed the quince of my dreams.
You see, for years I had tried and failed in duplicating the pumpkin empanadas of my grandmother’s kitchen. They always seemed to miss the mark somehow. Trapped in some sort of flavor-ether of my youth, the flavor would fail to come together the way I remembered it. Oh they were good, but they were not “it”.
Then I tasted quince. Again. THAT was the flavor! That was the flavor of the pumpkin empanadas. It was pumpkin and quince! Finally the flavor lock had been opened!
Welcome home my knobby yellow friend.
I think we’re going to get to know each other a whole lot better.
If you too are quince curious be sure not to miss:
Quince of My Dreams – Celebration of a Forgotten Fruit
Saturday, November 5th, 2011
10 AM to 12 PM
Vineyard Farmers Market - Northwest corner of Blackstone & Shaw
Quince Celebration Features Gourmet Chefs, Live Jazz, Fresh Quince, & Book Signing
Casa de Tamales, Dusty Buns Bistro Bus, La Boulangerie, Trelio Restaurant
and Yalla Yalla.
FRESNO, Calif., Membrillo in Spanish, coing in French, quitte in German, ayva in Turkish, and sergevil in Armenian – all over the world the fruit bearing quince tree (Cydonia oblonga) is cultivated and prized for it’s versatility in the kitchen. Unfortunately in the United States this wonderful fruit has been nearly forgotten.
To help us rediscover the quince we have invited “Simply Quince” author Barbra Ghazarian to visit the Vineyard Farmers Market to sign copies of her cookbook.
In addition our “market chefs” will be on hand to tempt and delight you with creations made from this incredible fruit.
Admission to the event is $5, with tickets available at the gate. Featured local restaurant’s providing quince dish samples include; Casa de Tamales, Dusty Buns Bistro Bus, La Boulangerie, Trelio Restaurant and Yalla Yalla.
For an additional fee ($5 - $10) we will be offering tastings and unique cocktails made from Marian Farms oak aged brandies, vodka and pisco.
Quince of My Dreams will be held at the Vineyard Farmers Market located on the Northwest corner of Blackstone & Shaw in Fresno, California. The event will start at 10 AM and end at noon. The ShapHill Duo will perform live jazz music.
Traditionally this hard, fuzz-covered, aromatic cousin of pears and apples is used to make sweet, festive, ruby-red jams and preserves. However, Barbra Ghazarian’s Simply Quince masterfully demonstrates the quinces versatility, floral fragrance, subtle flavor, and dazzling color in 70 easy recipes full of legend, history, culture, and scientific facts. Most varieties of quince are too hard, astringent and sour to eat raw. The event, sponsored by the Vineyard Farmers Market Association, is designed to increase appreciation for quince and local produce. Fresh quinces are harvested from late August through December.
For more info see: VineyardFarmersMarket.com