THE BLOG

In Praise of Quince

10/27/2013 11:26 pm ET | Updated Dec 27, 2013

Late October brings an interesting addition to stands heaped with orange squash and red apples at the Farmer's markets of New York: a strange green fruit, seemingly under-ripened, knobby and oddly leathery, with just the faintest, unidentifiable scent of sweetness. Few farmers carry this elusive fruit. Finding one is an annual mission of mine.

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The fruit is quince, or membrillo, as we call it in the kitchen of my Argentinean abuelita: a green apple doppelgänger whose deliciousness has, sadly, long gone unsung in North American cooking.

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True, it's a somewhat foreboding fruit when raw, but what its hard exterior doesn't tell you is that with a little time and a little sugar (and a splash of wine!) the otherwise unpalatable flesh gives way and becomes a succulent, Malbec-red dulce de membrillo, or quince paste. The result is firmly in the fall fruit frame - think apples and pears - but with a tantalizing hint of something tropical, something exotic, its hard-to-place sweetness alluringly romantic.

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Quince paste has graced my Argentinean table and those our Spanish friends for ages: served with a slice of manchego or something sharp, like cheddar, spread on toast, layered into pasta frolla. Shall it grace yours? Here's our old family recipe, from my Abuelita, to you.

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