Middleagemum.com: why no one cooks quince any more

Quince, best left in a good looking pile rather than cooked

I have acquired some odd habits picked up over the years, it's hard not to have, right? when you get to be over 40? One of these odd habits is buying fruit and vegetables JUST TO LOOK AT, not to eat or cook, but just to put on the table and admire. I even have a special table in the kitchen to put the displays on, where they achieve a magazine-shoot-status of loveliness for a while, sitting enticingly in wooden bowls or ceramic dishes all colourfully piled up, expecting, no doubt, as fruit and veg surely must, to be turned into supper any time soon.

I find it almost impossible to walk passed our greengrocer without falling for some seductive pile of seasonal produce. The worst place is markets, particularly Portobello market on a Friday, I get totally caught up in the whole affair, buying stuff entirely for the way it looks.

This week it was quince, a hilly pile of downy yellow fruit that gave off aromatic wafts of perfume everytime they got nudged. Mostly these piles of organic architectural wonder are ignored by the family, who think that I am a bonkers frustrated shopkeeper with all my pointless displays, so accept what ever is on show that week with blind indifference. Usually the piles rot, or I get bored with them and they end up on one of my compost heaps.

Obviously this is a terrible waste of money, times, effort on behalf of the grower and undoubtably a climate killer too, I am always beating myself up about it. This week youngest teenageson commented. "What are those?' pointing at the quince. "Why aren't we going to eat them? They look like apples, can you make a crumble?" So I made myself feel very much better by deciding to NOT WASTE FOOD and cooked the quince.

Have you ever wondered why we don't see quince in Asda? Or even Tesco last time I looked? Here's why. They take three HOURS to get even slightly soft in the oven, and despite turning the most beautiful shade of ruby red, taste absolutely horrid. Yes I know you can make quince cheese, but that's pretty odd too. And nothing like cheese.

So sometimes, despite everything we are taught and against all our better judgement, some things are just best admired for the way they look and a more meaningful relationship is best avoided.

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