Breaking bread: Ariadne’s Pears, poached in wine, with spices

Saturday: In the afterglow of Thanksgiving dinner, now that everyone is gone, the table is back to its normal size, and the house is relatively quiet, we finished the last remnants of the pears soaked in a wine-sugar syrup.  I have named this recipe Ariadne’s pears because it is she, my dear friend from Paris, who suggested that I make it for Thanskigiving dinner and sent me the recipe in French.  It took a while to find the English equivalent of all five spices which go into this sublime dessert–a real labor of love.

First tries are always risky, and this recipe was no exception. But it is not a difficult recipe at all, if you buy good quality pears, make sure the spices are also of good quality, and be attentive to the bubble of the wine-sugar mixture.  The result is a dessert of such lightness and such variety of tastes, as each spice gently makes itself known to your pallette that I must repeat, this is the food of the gods–and  Ariadne’s pears took us all to the heights of delight and pleasure.  I can try to throw a parallel between the story of Ariadne’s offering to Theseus as he tried to find his way through the labyrinth and our “lost ways” before we landed on this dessert, but it would be pushing it a bit hard.  Suffice it to say that Theseus was a cad.  We’ll do better.   Merçi, Ariadne.

Recipe: Fourteen pears; one and a half bottle of good quality red wine (never use cooking wine!); one and a half cup of sugar; six anise stars; six cinamon sticks; one and a half teaspoons of ground pepper; one whole vanilla bean; ten cardamom seeds (open and take the pods); three cloves; zest of two oranges and one lemon; juice of one orange.

Place all the ingredients, except the pears, in a cooking pot and heat thoroughly.  Meanwhile, peel the pears, and place them in the hot wine mixture.  Cover and let them cook.  The time varies, but even the more hard pears will cook in time. When they are cooked, take out the pears and place them on a seving dish.  Continue boiling the wine mixture on low heat until it begins to thicken slightly, or you can boil it enough so it is substantially reduced in volume.  Pour over the pears and let the dessert rest overnight, if possible, so the syrup will “impregnate” (not my word, you understand!)  the pears.



About Taline Voskeritchian

Writing teacher at Boston University; translator (from Arabic and Armenian); prose writer; occasional editor; incurable wanderer.
This entry was posted in Breaking Bread, Learning, Small joys and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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