I’ve eaten them, I’ve cooked them, I’ve loved them but I can’t say I’ve ever had the full-on orgasmic quincey-profumo affair. Writers write effusively about the heady smell of quince as the fruit sit in a fruit bowl. Really? There’s not a lot of change, to be honest, with my three. I chose them carefully, and there they have sat for a month reclining in a nice black bowl while I wait for them to share their magic. Dormant. Mute. Not happening. Am I missing something? I sniff and I sniff, maybe I have sniffed up all the scent before it was ready to be released? Well, that’s stupid. Now I am writing stupid stuff. The quinces are getting the better of me.
But it is a conundrum.
I’ve been buying quinces for years – I’ve never had a quince tree apart from in my dreams – so buy them I do, and I usually get on with cooking them long before they have a chance to fill the house with their ‘glorious scent’. They smell great when they cook, and I love the way they change to deep pink and crimson depending on the other ingredients in the recipe. But fill the house with perfume when they are raw? Does it just burst forth one day, like a pear that has little or no perfume until it starts to ripen, which it does from the centre? Is that the life of a quince? Someone tell me, put me out of my misery. Am I doing something wrong, or do they really not smell at all. Did someone just make that up?
I decide I better consult the great oracle in the sky and get some answers. Google threw up all of these tantalising reports: Quinces are highly fragrant; quinces smell like exotic guava; quinces emit scents of ripening apples and pears; quinces have hints of vanilla, citrus, apple…. And on and on Google effused, but the worst was this: The honey sweet fragrance of quince will fill the whole home.
I was feeling inadequate, as if there was a secret being kept from me, then I read about other people who have experienced scent-free quinces. Oh! I’ve found my tribe! Deeper I dove … All I need is a windowsill, Googleman told me. The sun will make quince turn yellow and then they will emit their secret scents. I looked at my quinces, as lumpy as thigh cellulite and already a beautiful sunny yellow. But then the most extraordinary thing happened, I swear I didn’t imagine it. This sweet scent rose up and filled my nostrils. It was gorgeous, honey-sweet, like a floral meadow when morning sun warms it, filled with jasmine and grapefruit and white roses, and yes QUINCE. OMG the quinces were opening up! I rushed to the fruit bowl, picked up one and with eyes closed drew in a deep sniff. Nothing. I lowered my head, studied the quince and the perfume was there again. Oh, joy. I raised my head and there was no more perfume. It certainly wasn’t coming from the quince. That’s right, it was coming from deep inside my shirt. Err-mmm. I investigated further, and there it was, the glorious smell of Chanel’s Chance Eau Tendre. So I get it. A wee spray of Channel on the bowl of quinces and everything smells like roses. Or quinces. Just like they say it will in all those housey type magazines.