PERFECTLY ripe, the pear is a paradox: verging on crisp, yet soft as velvet. With every juicy bite, its delicate flavor invites comparisons to nectar and flowers and meadows, but there’s no need really. Just as its voluptuous silhouette sets the standard in the lexicon of shapes, the pear tastes inimitably of itself.
Still, it requires a little patience. With the pear, there is a time for everything. A time for picking, when the fruit is mature yet hard. A time for ripening, when sweetness unfurls from its core, transforming the flesh all the way to the skin. And a time for eating, when those who have patiently watched and waited are at last rewarded. When that moment arrives, you must seize it -- gently. This is when you hold the pear in your hand, its bulbous blossom end a comforting weight in your palm and its narrow head securely snug between thumb and finger, and lightly squeeze by the stem. It will yield just so, and you’ll know. It is ready. Waste not a moment -- the beautiful paradox lasts only so long.
Eaten out of hand, it is perfection. Placed in the hand of a cook, it is inspiration. Sweetness begets sweetness.
Here in Southern California, our leaves might not turn the rusty reds and fiery yellows and brilliant greens and mossy browns of a picture-book fall, but our pears most certainly do. And perhaps that is why we prize them even more. They’re our harbinger of the season.