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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving thanks for pears

Since I was 10 or so, my favorite fruit by far has been the pear. Fresh, poached, canned, in jam or in a tart, or juiced; Bartlett, Red Bartlett, Bosc, Seckel, Comice, Green Anjou, Red Anjou, or Asian, I can't imagine anything better than a pear.

How did I come to love pears? I don't know. There was at least one pear tree on my grandparents' farm, and my grandmother made pear preserves that I stirred into the grits served for breakfast on most mornings. In those days, apples were mainly the Red Delicious whose quality was unpredictable. Citrus and berries were available only seasonally and didn't can well. Alabama has always produced some of the best peaches, but I have never been a fan of peaches from any source. Cherries came from "up north" and were never in the running.

Some years ago a neighbor gave us a box of Royal Rivieras from Harry and David in Oregon. Wow! About ten years ago, I was in Japan on business when a customer served us nashi at the end of lunch. The nashi were wonderful -- unlike their California counterparts, which I recommend avoiding. 

I don't eat pears every day; I prefer them occasionally as a treat. I admit that buying them can be daunting and that storing them can be tricky. Pears are sometimes under-ripe or mealy, but that's part of the adventure. Life has its minor disappointments, but so what?

Regrettably the ornamental Bradford pear has been overplanted here. It's also susceptible to hurricane damage and probably should never have been planted. It's one of the first trees to blossom (white) in the spring, however, and one of the last to turn color (crimson) in the fall. When there are no leaves on a Bradford pear, one knows it's wintertime.

I'm not sure what I want my last meal to be, but I'm certain that pears would be part of it.