Food Friday: I Might Have a New Favorite Pear?

Indignity Vol. 4, No. 76

Food Friday: I Might Have a New Favorite Pear?
A pair of pears


THE GOOD FRUIT season is still not here, though the mangos are flourishing. So when the grocery delivery company listed a kind of pear I hadn't seen before as "Peak Quality" and on sale, I clicked on it. It was called the Abate Fetel pear, and in the picture it was long and skinny, looking sort of like a greener Bosc, the pear I enjoy most of all. I put some in the online shopping basket and immediately forgot the name. 

The pears went on the sideboard with the rest of the inventory in the Saturday delivery. I didn't really look at them. Nobody else did, either. I like pears more than the rest of the family does, and between the mangoes and some enduring citrus, there was enough fruit for breakfast and after-school snacktime without anyone engaging with them. Near the end of the week, I remembered they were there and had a look. 

Over the days of being ignored, the pears had gotten just a little bit soft, like a Bosc starting to mellow. They had a russet tip and a bit of blush on the body and an awkward shape, bent-backed and bulgy. The idea that pears are symmetrically "pear-shaped" is never really true, but in this case it was completely untenable. If I'd been trying to cut them up and parcel them out equally in bowls for snacks, I wouldn't have known where to start cutting. 

One of the pears sliced open revealing nice uniform fruit-flesh
It's time to start cutting

Luckily I was just trying to get a little afternoon bite for myself, and to ensure the pears didn't go to waste. I made a likely-looking cut and absent-mindedly ate a piece. Immediately, I was paying attention. The flesh was smooth but still firm, and the taste was like a musical rearrangement of a good Bosc, with more instruments added to the score. It was sweet, but the sweetness had to compete with an ever-shifting, powerful array of aromas. The skin added a little bit of extra tartness as the rest of it dissolved.

I hacked my way through the whole thing, one morsel at a time. Trying to deal with the twistiness of the neck, I accidentally sliced straight through the midline, only to discover that there was no fibrous core there. It was tender all the way through. 

I went back and looked up the invoice to figure out what I'd just eaten: Abate Fetel. The Internet told me that it was a nineteenth-century variety popular in Italy. They are not on the Pear Bureau Northwest / USA Pears list of American pear varieties; these were from Argentina. I've bought them every week since, and will keep going till they run out. Do I really like them better than Boscs? The best ones are the best pears I've ever had. I'm not sure about the others, because I keep trying to eat them before they've sat around long enough. 

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A blue sky, lightening a bit with sun toward the right

New York City, May 2, 2024

★★★★★ The sky had a sturdy covering of clouds on it but the radar showed no showers and someone was walking by bareheaded. A mower maneuvered around the foot of the lawn by the Pool. Midmorning wasn't really warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt, but the humidity made things mild enough to get away with it. Over the North Meadow ballfields the sun was growing stronger through what had become just a scrim of clouds, and a breeze carried the smell of warming cut grass. Dogwoods were entirely in bloom, flat and white as paper. Silverbells rained down petals as bumblebees worked the remaining blossoms overhead. On Fifth Avenue, the sun struggling through the clouds had become clouds struggling to restrain the sun. An hour and a quarter later, the sun was fully out, but the rising breeze and the dropping humidity made it feel a little chillier than before, if anything. By early afternoon, it had all resolved into properly warm sun and cool shade, with the summer city odors rising. The urge to check the phone for tomorrow's weather kept getting sidetracked by the comfort of the moment. The sunset was smooth orange in the western sky from the entrance to the subway, and still orange on the exit, while downtown's share of the heavens had gone from clear fizzy pink to a calm, deepening blue. 

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LET'S TRY THIS, click on this box to see some options for enjoying today's Indignity Morning Podcast:

Indignity Morning Podcast No. 266: 12 words and a lot of nested phrases.
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WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS in aid of the assembly of a sandwich selected from Mrs. Ericsson Hammond's Salad Appetizer Cook Book, by Maria Matilda Ericsson Hammond. Published in 1924, and now in the Public Domain and available at for the delectation of all.

Saumon fumé a la Charlotte For Eight Persons

Eight slices of bread. One half pound smoked salmon. Three tablespoons of Cox’s gelatine. One half cup of whipped cream. A pinch of pepper and salt.

How to Make It. Butter the slices of bread. Put a thin slice of salmon on each. Cut out with a medium round biscuit cutter. Put in the center of each a ring of charlotte, and in the center of them put a small roll of the salmon. Decorate all around the sandwich with stirred butter and diamonds of truffles. Arrange on a platter. Garnish with parsley. Serve before the soup.

The Charlotte. Put tiny small ring moulds on ice, glaze with aspic, and fill with the cream. To one half a cup of whipped cream, two tablespoons of the dissolved Cox’s gelatine, pepper, and salt.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, be sure to send a picture to 

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Supplies are running low of the second printing of 19 FOLK TALES, still available for gift-giving and personal perusal! Sit in the gathering heat with a breezy collection of stories, each of which is concise enough to read before the sun gets high.

HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm DailyThe special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, available for purchase at SHOPULA.

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