Alex came home from the Greenmarket last week with some beautiful quince. They were hefty and heavy in the palm of my hand, with a haunting aroma and soft, fuzzy skins. He placed them gently in the fruit bowl in the center of the table and told me that he had had big plans for the fruit. Several days passed and the quince were still in the bowl. They still appear to be nice specimens, perhaps slightly lighter in weight, their skins subtly darkening on the tops and bottoms, lightening in skin tone and small blemishes slowly blooming on their surfaces. Clearly time was becoming a factor.
A couple more days go by and the quince remain untouched. I decide to take matters into my own hands. We have an unwritten rule that dibs on an ingredient only last for a week, less for more perishable items. Use it or lose it is our motto. So today, while we were working on a few other projects, I gathered up the quince. Alone in the kitchen I washed them and began peeling off the skins, saving them in a bowl for the poaching liquid. Alex walked in as I was about halfway through the pile. There was a brief silence.
"Peeling quince." I kept peeling.
"What are you going to do with them?"
"Not sure yet, I was thinking of poaching them in that last bottle of Moscato we have in the basement." I let the pause play out for a few seconds, "Unless there's something you'd rather do with them?"
"Well actually don't you remember that I was going to cook them with lemongrass?" In seconds he was in motion, cutting the tops and bottoms off the quince I had already peeled and assembling a slightly acidic bath of lime water for them to rest in. "Save the skins would you, for the infusion?" Suddenly there was apple cider and a few stalks of lemon grass on the counter top. The pressure cooker appeared in his hands as if by magic.
As Alex bustled around the kitchen I finished the last quince and moved on to other things, smiling to myself. Every so often we all need a little push to get back on track. That's why partnerships are a good thing. When we lose sight of the forest for the trees, there's always someone there to remind us of the bigger picture. And to save the quince from an ignoble end, dehydrating slowly in a bowl on the table.