The pear that was really very small

La poire qui était toute petite

[The pear that was really very small]

I got this pear at the Gérardmer market — a.k.a the magic market of the ceaseless wonders — at the same produce stall where we got a crate of apricots to make jam. I’m always on the lookout for new and unusual fruits or vegetables, and those tiny ball-shaped pears did not escape my hawksight.

“Oh, qu’est-ce que c’est, ça?” I asked the stand-keeper. (“What are these?”)

“Ce sont des poires Blanchet“, he replied. “Au début je pensais que ce serait pas bon, mais en fait si, c’est bon. Tenez, goûtez-en voir une!” (“These are Blanchet pears. At first, I thought they wouldn’t be any good, turns out they are. Here, try one!”)

And he handed me this green little cutie. I held it for a bit, nestled in the cup of my hand, to appreciate its weight, and its smooth, unblemished skin, noticing how it fit very precisely in my palm. I then slipped it in my basket, for later study, photography and consumption.

A bit of research dug up just a little more detail : this pear variety is in fact called Claude Blanchet, after the name of the French gardener who developped it in 1877. It’s described as I would love to be myself : a small, juicy and fragrant fruit, which ripens in late July and should be handled with care because it bruises easily, poor darling.

At lunchtime, dessert was the typical summertime fruit platter (peaches, apricots and nectarines galore), and I divided little miss pear Blanchet in quarters, for each of us to have a taste. It was ever-so-slightly crunchy (maybe it could have been left to ripen just a tad more?) and had, as one might expect, a nice pear flavor. Nothing to write home about (and I do apologize if she feels unjustly underappreciated), but one doesn’t buckle under the weight of seasonally ripe pears in July, so one will not, as we say in French, spit in the soup *.

And before we part, I’d like to express my thanks to Céline, the talented super-model on the picture above. It is much more difficult than you would think to pose for posterity, holding a very small pear by its stout little stem, keeping very still and trying hard not to burst out laughing. (Beautiful nails too, no?)

* The French expression is : cracher dans la soupe (behaving in an unappreciative, ungrateful manner).


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  • maryanne

    Finally I am back in the real world with high speed internet after 5 days without it and hence without my “chocolate and zucchini fix”, usually taken daily with my morning tea. It’s like a vitamin for my food soul! Anyway, I have avidly caught up with your market adventures, and note that fathers talking to boyfriends and sons in law all look the same, and that picture is not so different as the one that takes place with my family on Cape Cod. I’m curious as to why you do not “vacuum”seal the jars of jam? I would think it was a must! Anyway have a lovely weekend….I’m going to sit and watch my tomatoes get ripe!

  • Maryanne – Welcome back! So glad to be your morning tea companion… As for the vacuum sealing question, my mother sealed her jars with paraffin for years, but she stopped doing it a few years ago. It seems that most (if not all) of the air gets sucked out when the jam cools (the lid distinctly pops when you — finally — open the jars) and that the sugar content is enough to preserve the fruit efficiently. But I’m no expert at this and it may not be the best way of doing it in terms of food safety, but… so far so good!

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