Recipe Corner Cooking Techniques

Ah! The Scent of Pear

PearsWe were, without question, devoted to apples as our go-to fruit for snacking and desserts, especially as late summer and early fall came into view. Apples have always been the reliable, life-long buddy whom we've known since childhood.

Then a foodie friend championed the cause of the aromatic pear. Initially, we didn't understand what on earth he was blathering about. Though we liked the idea of pears -- Old World cuisines, Van Gogh's still lifes, interior design props -- the actual richness of a pear's scent was lost on us.

So FF ("foodie friend") challenged us to try the apple-pear test:

Cut a slice of apple, and cut a slice of pear. Get a blindfold. (If you're alone, or promise not to cheat, then you can skip the blindfold.) While sniffing the slice of pear, have a bite of the apple. The apple tastes more like a pear, right? Now clear your nose and palate -- sniff coffee beans, eat a saltine cracker, etc. -- and reverse the foods/senses: Sniff the apple, and have a bite of the pear. The pear aroma will still outshine the apple's comparatively lighter scent.

Humbled, we were pleasantly surprised that such a fragrant fruit had been, quite literally, right under our noses all along.

The point of the apple-pear experiment is to develop an appreciation for pear's complexity, which is why the fruit is such a favorite ingredient in dishes that require a note of sweetness with depth: fresh pears in salads with bold cheeses, dried fruit and walnuts; poached pears in wine or stuffed with crème fraîche; Grandma Josephine's pear tart.

While we still love apple's tried-and-true flavor, FF was right about pear's scent. It looks like we've got a new buddy, just in time for autumn.