I had no idea what a quince looked like, let alone tasted like on its own, but there was one excellent memory of the yellow pome– quince paste, or membrillo in Spanish:
Yes, I can recall greedily taking sample after sample of membrillo at a local supermarket. It was often served with manchego, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese, and paired very well with…whichever toothpick I could find to get the most out of the stewed fruit native to the Caucasus and Iran. It was delicious – no argument there – but I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed in adding sugar to something fruit-based…rather, if you had to do it (such as with cranberries), add other fruit juices/honey as opposed to the unnecessary granulated stuff.
So, is a quince one of those cranberry or hachiya persimmon-types that is typically processed into a jam, stew or other playground for botulism?
As hinted at above, yes.
Fast forward to last year’s visit to Baku, Azerbaijan. My first meal in the Azeri capital was punctuated by a small haadiya (gift) from the restaurant owner- a fresh quince:
Knowing just a tiny bit of Turkish and roughly two words of Azeri, I forced out a ben bu yemek istiyorum, which I took to mean “I want to eat this.” Stupid me, I should have just used hand gestures. Either way, the managers motioned that it was ok to eat raw, though in retrospect, probably uttered the opposite. It was very tough, tart, and didn’t take long for me to stop eating that way (hmm, perhaps I could poach the next quince in a hotel room tea kettle?).
In other words, if you’d like to experiment and cook with quince, check out this site for a few suggestions. Meanwhile, I’ll have to scour the esoteric co-ops and produce stores of Manhattan for another try.
n.b. The second photo also contains a souvenir from my Azerbaijan Airlines flight between New York and Baku. I asked flight attendants to jot down some local Azeri dishes; ironically, the air sickness bag was the most convenient way to do it. Still, I prefer the halcyon pen and paper method to notes on a phone (phone batteries die, and paper usually won’t draw unwelcome attention).