Pear: a long and intriguing history
The pear – one of humanity’s most ancient fruits – some historians believe it was already cultivated in China over 6000 years ago – came to Europe via the Middle-East as early as via the Roman Empire, when this hard rustic fruit at the time was eaten cooked. Beginning with the Renaissance, different sweeter and more easily edible varieties were developed that could be eaten raw, as were fermer varieties that continued to be cooked. There are today 2000 pear varieties and they enjoy one of the longest harvesting times of any temperate fruit, from the middle of the summer to December. Because of their versatility and their subtle flavors and fragrances, the pear quickly established itself as a staple in the gastronomic repertoire. It is already mentioned is what is generally considered the first European recipe book, De re coquinaria (Culinary Art), a 4th Century compilation of Roman recipes, including those of Apicius, where we find a pear patina made with eggs, pepper cumin, wine and garum (a fish-based sauce). Throughout the following centuries, the pear has made its mark as an exceptionally adaptable fruit, used in an almost unlimited number of sweet and savory dishes: pies, cakes, charlottes, mousses, soufflés, turnovers, strudels, the famous Belle Hélène (invented supposedly by the great Chef Escoffier), poached, cooked in wine, as a side dish for meat and game, in compotes, juices, ciders, etc. It is very rich in antioxidants and fibers, contains very little sugar and is one of the healthiest fruits available, appreciated worldwide, always listed among the Top 10 most consumed fruits in all continents.