Painters in Spains golden age captured the poverty of the table with their stark leitmotifs of hunger. Juan sanchez Cotans Still life with quince, cabbage, melon and cucumber , painted in about 1600, is a spare minimilist still life that could pass as a contemporary painting. A quince and cabbage are suspended in the midair with strings while the melon and cucumber law on a windoe ledge. This is all there is to the painting: food as objects to be desired, not actually eaten.

The Arabs, in AD 763, built ther round city in the valley of the Tiggris where Kish and babylon, Seleucia and Ctesiphon had once flourished. Outside the walls of the city gathered an extrodinary medly of people, Arabs and Syrians, Persians and Turks, a population in whose viens ran the blood of Greeks, Parthians, Sassanids even the Romans.

Soon Bagdad became the great warehouse of it's time, filled with products of the east. From it's Arab and Rhadanite Jews journeyed to China for cinnomon and rhubard (important for medicine) and to India for for coconuts, others went to Bacria for grapes, to Isfahan for honey,quinces , apples, saffron and salt. to Mosul for quails and to Hulwan for pomagranites, figs and vinager sauces.

  The first recipe belongs to Apicius and it is tested by a member of another forum regarding ancient cooking :)

Patina de Cydoneis: -Apicius 164
Mala Cydonia cumporris, melle, liquamine, oleo, defrito
coques et inferes, vel elixata ex melle

(Quince Patina: stew quinces with leeks, honey, garum, and oil, cook and
serve; also boiled with honey)

Based on Dalby/Grainger’s recipe for the Patina de Piris( pears)

1.5 Lbs quinces
10 fl oz defrutum
2 TBS clear honey
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS garum
3 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Peal quinces, core and chop roughly.
2. Mix all liquids in pot, and stew the quinces until soft.
3. Process until smooth, then add eggs, and process again.
4. Pour into greased casserole dish and bake until tester comes out clean.

To Preserve Quinces ( Medieval recipe)

From Archimagirus Anglo-Gallicus; Or, Excellent & Approved Receipts and Experiments in Cookery, 1658

Take Quinces and weigh them, core and pare them, then take for every pound of Quinces a pound of Sugar; then take Quinces and grate them and strain them; for every pound half a pint as the juyce of the Quinces, and half a pint of fair water; the water, and sugar, and syrrop must be first boyled and clean skimmed, then put in your Quinces and turn them still to keep the colour of them: then let them boyl so till the Quinces be tender, they must seethe very softly, for fear of breaking; and ever as the scumme ariseth, you must take it off with a feather.

source: the godecookery book.

Baked Quinces Farmer, Fannie Merritt,1918, The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.

Wipe, quarter, core, and pare eight quinces. Put in a baking dish, sprinkle with three-fourths cup sugar, add one and one-half cups water, cover, and cook until soft in a slow oven. Quinces require a long time for cooking.

source : bartelby.com 

  The Quince has been under cultivation since very remote times. It is a native of Persia and Anatolia and perhaps also of Greece and the Crimea, though it is doubtful if in the latter localities the plant is not a relic of former cultivation. It is certain that the ancient Greeks knew a common variety, upon which they grafted scions of a better variety, which they obtained from Cydon in Crete, from which place the fruit derived its name of Cydonia, of which the English name Quince is a corruption.

Ancient authors as Athenaeus, confuse quinces with apples that's why in texts we find them as " winter apples".

In old English literature we find the fruit called a Coyne, as in the Romaunt of the Rose and the old English Vocabularies of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, this name being adapted from the French coin, whence Middle English Coin, Quin, the plural quins, becoming corrupted to the singular Quince.

The Quince as we know it in Europe and States is a different fruit to that of Western Asia and tropical countries, where the fruit becomes softer and more juicy.

In colder climates, the fruit is of a fine, handsome shape, of a rich golden colour when ripe and has a strong fragrance, by some judged to be rather heavy and overpowering. The rind is rough and woolly and the flesh harsh and unpalatable, with an astringent, acidulous taste. In hotter countries, the woolly rind disappears and the fruit can be eaten raw.

This is the case not only in Eastern countries, where it is much prized, but also in those parts of tropical America to which the tree has been introduced from Europe. This explains the fact that it figured so prominently in classical legends. It was very widely cultivated in the East and especially in Palestine, and many commentators consider that the Tappuach of Scripture, always translated Apple, was the Quince.

It is also supposed to be the fruit alluded to in the Canticles, 'I sat down under his shadow with great delight and his fruit was sweet to my taste'; and in Proverbs, 'A word fitly spoken is like Apples of gold in pictures of silver.'

Pliny, who speaks at length of the medicinal virtues of the Quince, says that the fruit warded off the influence of the evil eye, and other legends connect it with ancient Greek mythology, as exemplified by statues on which the fruit is represented, as well as by representations in the wall-paintings and mosaics of Pompeii, where Quinces are almost always to be seen in the paws of a bear.

By the Greeks and Romans, the Quince was held sacred to Venus, who is often depicted with a Quince in her right hand, the gift she received from Paris. The 'golden Apples' of Virgil are said to be Quinces, as they were the only 'golden' fruit known in his time, oranges having only been introduced into Italy at the time of the Crusades.

The fruit, being dedicated to Venus, was regarded as the symbol of Love and Happiness, and Plutarch mentions the bridal custom of a Quince being shared by a married pair. Quinces sent as presents, or shared, were tokens of love. The custom was handed down, and throughout the Middle Ages Quinces were used at every wedding feast, as we may read in a curious book, The Praise of Musicke:
'I come to marriages, wherein as our ancestors did fondly and with a kind of doating, maintaine many rites and ceremonies, some whereof were either shadowes or abodements of a pleasant life to come, as the eating of a Quince Peare to be a preparative of sweet and delightful dayes between the married persons.'

Quinces are mentioned among the curious recipes in Manuscripts relating to domestic life in England. Wynkyn de Worde, in the Boke of Kervynge, speaks of 'char de Quynce,' and John Russell, in the Boke of Nurture, speaks of 'chare de Quynces' - the old name for Quince Marmalade.

This preserve is now practically the only use made of the Quince as an article of food, though it is sometimes added to apple-tarts, to improve their flavour, but in Shakespeare's time, Browne spoke of the fruit as 'the stomach's comforter, the pleasing Quince,' and a little later, Parkinson says:
'There is no fruit growing in the land that is of so many excellent uses as this [the Quince], serving as well to make many dishes of meat for the table, as for banquets, and much more for their physical virtues.' 

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