An ordinary looking fruit with an enjoyable taste, but it can insidiously hasten death to those who eat it, particularly in Venice. If there’s any doubt, re-read « Death in Venice, » by Thomas Mann, « Vor einem kleinem Gemüseladen kaufte er einige Früchte, Erdbeeren, überreife und weiche Ware und ass in Gehen davon. » and look for the overripe and too soft strawberries…
A taste appreciated since a long time ago People wrote about quince a long time ago and we can read about it in ancient texts from Assyria, Babylonia and in the Bible. The ancient Greeks ate it, and they thought it was good against bad spirits, The ancient Romans ate it too and it was the symbol of love and fertility for them.
It gave its perfume to the Arabic kitchen and the Jewish kitchen, as we found quince pastry and honey quince in the mediaeval kitchen.
A strange cork and a funny accelerator! As people thought the quince not only prevented other foods coming back up, it also helped food to exit, it was recommended to eat it at the end of the meal, so it could do its work. People thought that chestnuts, medlars, apples and pears did the same work.
Other properties People say the quince is astringent, useful for diarrhoea, dysentery, a tonic for the stomach and intestines, and it promotes a well-balanced nervous system.
Eating We can eat it cooked, as jam, jelly, stewed quince, pastry, syrups, wine, or a sauce with salted dishes.
Beauty A long time ago, its stones were used to make a hair fixative and a protective cream for the lips.
Smell The quince emits a strong and characteristic smell. If you like it, put a ripe quince on a small plate or saucer, in your closet, in the middle of your clothes or bed-sheets, which will be fragrant, as will your home.
Recipe 1: Stewed quince on Ashes « Wrap as many quinces as you wish to cook in pieces of wet paper. Put them in warm ash so they can cook very slowly ; when they became soft, take them out of the paper and cut them in quarters. You must peel them well and take out the stone. Put them in a pan with one half glass of water, an ¼ kilo of sugar, and finish cooking them. Be careful to skim off any scum that appears, with piece of paper, then put them in a bowl. If the syrup isn’t thick enough, let it boil some more, to reduce. Sprinkle on the quince; you must serve it warm. » Dictionnaire portatif de cuisine, Anonyme, France, 1765