Everything we eat has a story. A story about where it came from, how it was made, born, or spouted; and how it travelled toward us.
Everything we eat also becomes part of our own story. A link in the web of meaning that flavour holds for us. Each bit of sustenance that passes over our lips has the potential to start a story, or to stir up a memory.
Quince, for me, is winter. It’s granny food. It exists, in bottled form, on the colour scale from fleshy crayfish to sensuous stripper red. It’s neatly layered in conserve bottled, lids tightly screwed on.
I don’t really remember by granny ever making anything with quince. Maybe she did, and I only associate it with her because the senses of smell and roots of nostalgia were affixed in me before my visual memories. Maybe I associate quince with the wrinkled faces of old women I saw as we paused at farm stalls across the country during family holidays. Neatly packed in rows with handwritten labels. Part of the granny-domain.
Either way, I walked into a local supermarket last week in a post-exam daze. My mind was still whirling with theories and ethnographic accounts. I was craving something I couldn’t name.
I saw the quince, bright yellow, bulbous on the shelf, larger than the surrounding fruit. I knew immediately that they were what I needed. I selected three, smooth skinned and heavy for their weight.
Quince poached in rosé wine with orange and vanilla
I bought them home, and started to put the exam out of my mind as I emptied the bottle of rosé wine (merlot and pintoage) that I had bought into a saucepan with 1 cup of sugar and 1 orange, cut into wedges. I peeled the three quinces one by one, with a peeler, nibbling at the skin to gauge it. Apple-y and sour, strong.