(it’ll probably help more if you shout the title out loud very in the style of Bruce Dickinson out of Iron Maiden. I used to know someone who used to get very drunk and go up to rockers in the street and pretty-much scream “Met-laaaaaar” in their faces just like that.
You really had to be there, I suspect…and he did get very good at running away quickly…
Anyway. Glory be. A review of fruit. Whaaat? (alright, you can drop the Bruce Dickinson thing, now)
Medlars (Mespilus Germanica) are a strange sort of cross between a crab apple, and a rosehip. When they’re on the tree they’re as hard as iron and completely inedible. But if you leave them alone until about now (November) they start to breakdown – and there’s no easy way to say this – rot…well, rot and ferment.
Yes, ferment, that’s better.
The traditional name for this rotting/fermenting is “Bletting” (which is an old french word meaning over-ripe) and once our Medlars have bletted sufficiently, see below, they are transformed…
an eviscerated Medlar
Slightly wrinkled, and yielding to the touch you simply have to slice them open to reveal the slightly unappetising looking innards. If you think that’s bad, you’ll be even more happy to learn that the French call them cul de chien (Dog’s arses) because if you look closely they do look a bit like dog’s ring-pieces.
Despite the appearance, the rotting and the canine connotations, the aroma is actually pretty good and very complex: almonds, marzipan and sweet apple with dates and a slight peppery-lemon on the back edge.
The mouth-feel is, well, an odd experience – largish stones/pips take up a fair bit of space in the two inch fruiting body, so you’ll need to work around them with a spoon. The flesh is soft and grainy – a bit like the brown bits you get in old apples. but the taste is the most surprising: apples, spiciness, dates and dried figs with a solid streak of citrussy lemon running through. There’s almost an apple pie and custard sort of theme to it, too.
You can cook with them, but that seems like a lot of faff. Apparently they go especially well with wine. I think a nice Belgian beer like a Duvel or even a wheat beer would be even better.
As mentioned above – the best way to eat them is to go at them with a spoon.