Last week, I tasted quince for the first time in my life. Before I came to Europe, I had never even seen a quince, and didn't even know what the word meant, except that it sounded funny, and was apparently something you could eat.
However, they are fairly popular in Europe, since they have plenty of uses:
The very strong perfume means they can be added in small quantities to apple pies and jam to enhance the flavor. Adding a diced quince to apple sauce will enhance the taste of the apple sauce with the chunks of relatively firm, tart quince. The term "marmalade", originally meaning a quince jam, derives from marmelo, the Portuguese word for this fruit.
Quince cheese is firm, sticky, sweet reddish hard paste made of the quince fruit, originating from the Iberian peninsula. It is known as dulce de membrillo across the Spanish-speaking world, where it is used in a variety of recipes, eaten in sandwiches and with cheese, traditionally manchego cheese, or accompanying fresh curds. In Chile, boiled quince is popular in desserts such as the murta con membrillo that combines Chilean guava with quince.
In the Balkans and elsewhere, quince eau-de-vie (rakija) is made. For a quince rakija, ripe fruits of sweeter varieties are washed and cleared from rot and seeds, then crushed or minced, mixed with cold or boiling sweetened water and winemaking yeast, and left for several weeks to ferment. Fermented mash is distilled twice to obtain an approximately 60% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) liquor. It may be diluted with distilled water to obtain the final product, containing 42-43% ABV.
So the other day, at the farmers' market, I had Afflatus # 1, and bought a bottle of quince nectar. You're never too old to try something new. Then I had an afflatus #2. I stopped by the Polish shop and bought a bottle of Grasowka Polish vodka, which is flavored with the aromatic scent of European bison grass. Each bottle contains one blade of the grass, although it's strictly ornamental.
I mixed one part vodka with three parts quince nectar and one part mineral water, and of course ice, since I'm American. The result was a pale honey-colored liquid that was sweet but not cloying, refreshing and full of interesting overtones. Quince juice tastes like apple juice, but has a faint citrusy overtone and more tartness.
I dubbed this cocktail the Proktophantasmist™, since I just came upon that word while re-reading Faust. You can call it a Prokto for short. It's like drinking a freshly-mown summer meadow.©
I hereby freely grant this cocktail recipe, in perpetuity, to the entire human race. That's just how I roll.