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Pears Belle Helene

by . Featured in HOW TO EAT

Introduction

My grandmother used to make these for me when I was a child. But they’re not nursery food and it isn’t just nostalgia that makes me dredge them up. Pears are so rarely edible when raw. When they’re good, they’re wonderful, but I am beginning to think Ralph Waldo Emerson was being optimistic when he wrote, “There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat”: most pears go from hard to woolly without ever passing through the luscious ripe stage. Poaching pears is one way of dealing with all those hard unyielding fruits in the shops: somehow, however wooden they felt raw, poached they become infused with a juice-bursting plumpness. Indeed, when poaching, you actually don’t want the pears to be ripe.
I have to say, though, that I have a real fondness for tinned pears here. I find their particular grainy softness comforting, and they make this a near-instant pud. If I’m just eating this with the family at home, I often go this route.

My grandmother used to make these for me when I was a child. But they’re not nursery food and it isn’t just nostalgia that makes me dredge them up. Pears are so rarely edible when raw. When they’re good, they’re wonderful, but I am beginning to think Ralph Waldo Emerson was being optimistic when he wrote, “There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat”: most pears go from hard to woolly without ever passing through the luscious ripe stage. Poaching pears is one way of dealing with all those hard unyielding fruits in the shops: somehow, however wooden they felt raw, poached they become infused with a juice-bursting plumpness. Indeed, when poaching, you actually don’t want the pears to be ripe.
I have to say, though, that I have a real fondness for tinned pears here. I find their particular grainy softness comforting, and they make this a near-instant pud. If I’m just eating this with the family at home, I often go this route.

Image of Nigella's Pears Belle Helene
Photo by Lis Parsons

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