Thursday, January 17, 2013

Better know a rosaceae!

I might have mentioned it before, but one of my favorite parts of working here is that I get to meet a lot of fruit I wouldn't otherwise come across. We all know I've got some reservations about rambutans, tasty as they are. And starfruit was always something I walked past in the produce section without much of a glance.

Past few weeks though, we've had quince around. Quinces were another one of those fruits that always sort of lurked in my sub-conscious. Maybe I'd heard of them first in a nursery rhyme? Or...did Dickens mention them at some point? Maybe I'm somehow conflating them with mince meat pie? Who knows.

But we've regularly had quince sorbetto for the last little while, and lots of people have questions about them. Their Italian name (mela cotogne--I had to go downstairs and check, I definitely don't know it off the top of my head) is intimidating enough, but people sort of roll around with even just "quince." It's pronounced "kwints," beeteedubs. But we pretty regularly hear "keen-tseh," "kween-tseh," and once even "kweinz." Trust that we're pretty politic about when and if we correct someone's mis-pronunciation of any of our gelato names...

So what IS a quince, exactly? Well, they come from the same botanical family as apples and pears, but they're denser and not as grainy. They're maybe a little more astringent than either and definitely not as sweet as a pear. Usually they're cooked before being used as an ingredient, though they can be bletted to sweeten and soften them. And since they're high in pectin, they make wicked good jams and jellies. The word marmalade actually comes from marmelo, the Portuguese word for quince.

C'mon, when was the last time YOU had any quince? They'll be around for a little while longer, so come get some! And it's a sorbetto, so we've got you covered, you crazy vegans, you.

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