My quince tree
November 05, 2011
Mattgreen and I spent most of this year turning our garden into a beautiful circular design. The central feature of the garden is my quince tree, which was a gift from Mattgreen for our "Wood" wedding anniversary (5 years).
We had friends visiting yesterday and they asked what the story was behind the quince tree.
Years ago, I had a beloved friend who lived in an amazing house in Silverstone. He had a quince tree in his garden and one year we went to visit him on Bonfire Night. We ate drop scones (cooked by his wife on the Aga) and watched fireworks in his garden. As we were leaving, he gave me a carrier bag full of quinces. I went home and googled for recipes, and made quince tart and quince jelly and quince paste and quince anything-else-I-could-find-a-recipe-for.
Quinces are an old-fashioned English fruit, very popular in Tudor times and similar to a pear but yellow and very hard. They are inedible when raw, but when cooked have an unusual flavour that's not quite like anything else. More info here, if you're interested.
Anyway, the following year, I arranged to go and visit my friend again in October, hoping to collect more quinces for a reprise of the previous year's culinary experiments. Sadly, the visit had to be cancelled as he was taken ill, and later died of sudden onset throat cancer. It was awful.
Quinces have always reminded me of him, and I'd mentioned to Mattgreen on numerous occasions that I'd have a quince tree in our "forever" house. This is probably not our forever house, but I do now have the tree. For the past couple of years it's been pot-bound, but now it's planted in the ground hopefully I'll have a better crop next year. And if you happen to visit us in October or November, undoubtedly I will have managed to crowbar quince-something onto the menu.