I believe raw pears to be almost uniformly dreadful. When I recently shared this personal truth in a story called "Raw Pears Are Terrible," I was met with both solidarity and hostility from people on the World Wide Web. Yes, said people in the (correct) camp, long have I suffered lonesome in my raw pear disdain and disappointment, yet now I feel vindicated. And the latter camp, OK, perhaps it wasn't so much hostility as light smugness. Well, if you lived in California, all of your tree-borne fruit would be fertilized by organically-fed Pegasus dung and personally watered in the happy tears of Angelina Jolie's children, and you would know what a real pear was supposed to taste like.
As it happens, Extra Crispy HQ is in New York, but during a trip to the Bay Area last week a fit of insomnia spat me out in the produce aisle of a supermarket, smack dab in front of the pear display. I bought every kind I could find and hauled them back home to sample, because it seemed really weird and sad to eat a ton of pears alone in my hotel room. Instead I ate them alone in my kitchen. Here's how that went, from worst to best.
I came into this story Bosc-averse, and my boss, Ryan Grim, is at this moment proselytizing at me about the pleasures of a ripe Bosc, but this was pure trash, even for a pear. Crunchy, flat, and creepily flavorless, despite being given ample time to mellow and develop. If I wanted this texture, I'd have eaten an underripe apple and saved myself the insult of the rough skin.
This pear was possessed of a finer grit than most, which was welcome, but after an initial burst of sweetness, there was simply nothing, a void—like my tongue was chasing a flavor ghost. That's cruel of you, Anjou.
It took me a moment to reconcile what this soft, supple pear tasted like, and then it hit me: the pear cubes in canned fruit cocktail, which I ate semi-weekly in the youthful years before physically encountering a whole pear. This was pear-flavored pear, slightly sickly syrup-sweet. It'll do, but out of duty.
I had high hopes. I like French things and I like butter. But the initial rush of a borderline-cloying pleasantness quickly sank into fine-grained, edible quicksand. Sacre bleu, my mouth is mildly depressed just thinking about it.
Grit tends to be the thing that puts me off pears, and this was possessed of none. The fruit was firm, but yielding, with an off-dry flavor that was a welcome respite from the sugarbombs surrounding it. It was reasonably unterrible.
This was a firm, complex little fruit, with a tickle of honey against a borderline-bitter body. It's also the proper amount of pear, pocket-friendly, and not easily given to mush. I give a terse nod of approval to the Seckel.
The Comice started with a bright, slight burst of tartness, but proved soft on the tongue, juicy, and induced no anger within me. Unlike someone the others which would require cooking, cheese, or masochism to choke down, this could feasibly be eaten solo. Shoutout to the Comice, the best of a generally awful fruit group.