Mythic Quince

Published Fall, 2009
Edible Portland

From Classical authors like Homer, Virgil and Plutarch to literary classics like Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat," writers have been waxing poetic about quinces since ancient times. Their stature is--quite literally--mythic.

Once associated with Venus, the goddess of love, quinces were typecast forever as symbols of fertility and love, tossed into Greco-Roman bridal chariots and baked into cakes flavored with sesame and honey for wedding feasts in the Middle Ages.

It's tough to dismiss the possibility that this fruit of love was the same forbidden fruit that famously tempted Eve. Many food historians think so, anyway. According to the story, the Garden of Eden was in Mesopotamia, a broad geographical area between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers that is recognized as native quince territory. Since apples originated in Central Asia, it's doubtful that Eve reached up to pick one from overhead. Besides, it's easy to imagine why she would have been enticed by a quince and its celestial bouquet.

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