Saturday, 1 September 2012

The fragrance of quince


The end of summer hangs in the air. Streams of heavily-laden cars are heading north and the narrow streets seem to breathe a sigh of relief. On Radio Nostalgie, wistful growlers sing songs of love left at the beach and memories of balmy nights that will have to last the winter.

As we too pack up to leave, I've picked some quinces from the garden and placed them in a bowl. The quince is a brutish-looking fruit: a cross between a hard, knobby pear and a crab apple with a covering of soft fur, a neanderthal in the fruit world. But its fragrance is renowned; the skin of fresh quince is said to scent rooms for weeks with a perfume of milky coconut and pear, guava and musk and violet. Floral tones are there too, as is fitting for a fruit that is related to the rose.

I have tried before, in a half-hearted way, by placing one fruit on a stone mantlepiece. But we stayed away too long that time, and all we came back to were browning, mouldy remains. For the best results, apparently, two to three quinces should be placed in a bowl. That's all there is to it. I'll let you know whether we find ourselves opening the door on our return to a lushly-perfumed hall.

9 comments:

Harvee Lau said...

I have a Japanese ornamental quince that has beautiful coral flowers in the spring. The fruit is not for eating, I don't think, but there are a few still on the tree and I'll put them in a bowl on the table!

janineinfrance said...

Am off to hunt down a quince tree and try it - I burn essential oils - bay leaf, lavender and cotton but am very intrigued at this...

Cornflower said...

Is there really a Radio Nostalgie? Wonderful!
I regret to say that I have yet to see a quince in the flesh or smell the fragrance. Perhaps I'll have to plant a tree.

Deborah Lawrenson said...

Karen (Cornflower) - There certainly is a Radio Nostalgie! Perfect car radio in France, music to prompt all those summers gone by in France: heavy on the 60s, 70s and 80s chansons pop. The estate of Claude "Clo-Clo" Francois must make a fortune from his constant presence on the play-list. Julien Clerc, Joe Dassin, you get the picture. And no journey is complete without Supertramp ("Su-per-TROMPE!!".

Marcheline said...

I love the way the first picture looks as if the quince has been dropped into a puddle, with ripples emanating out and away... I had to stare at it for a few seconds before seeing the plate. Excellent.

Lisa Erin said...

As always, I feel as if I can catch the scent you describe in your post. I am so happy that Summer is ending, too. Autumn is my favorite season, by far. :)

MuMuGB said...

I miss Radio Nostalgie...As for quinces, I have tried before but somehow I have never succeeded in getting a lovely smell. I must be doing something wrong. Let us know how it goes.

Robert said...

Hello
my name is Robert and I discovered your blog in Ötli's blog. I went to Provence last year and did an album on this wonderful part country. Let me share it with you
http://fr.blurb.ca/bookstore/detail/2887142
BTW your photos are very inspiring

Vanessa said...

I must try this with quinces. As a fruit, I've always found them somewhat overrated. They make a quince paste here but have to put a lot of sugar with it to make it palatable.

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