Le Nespole - Would You Eat This?!
In the spring, Milan's open-air markets fill up with two great types of fruit: strawberries and medlars. Ever heard of a medlar? I hadn't until about 2 years into this European living experience. I figured "nespole" in Italian and "nefles" in French didn't have an English translation like mango and papaya are always called "mango" and "papaya" in Europe and the Americas. I like them even though I have to avert my eyes while I'm eating them. Have any of you English-speakers ever heard of this fruit?
Then I remembered a jelly recipe in "Perfect Preserves" by british food writer, Nora Carey. To give you a sense of the medlar's popularity, she had to introduce the recipe by explaining to her English-speaking audience what a medlar was: "a somewhat forgotten, old-fashioned fruit" and how you're supposed to eat it: "The medlar is not considered mature until it is completely rotted which can occur on the tree...or the fruit can be picked earlier and then spread on a straw mat in a cool place." To the left, you see fresh, pretty medlars ready for buying, but nowhere near ready for eating. The looks of a ripe medlar (photo up at the top) are, I imagine enough to warrant their unpopularity but they really are good, sweet and tangy once they're full of ugly brown spots.
So my question is, would you eat this?