Favorite Fruit: Abate Fetel Pears

Look at this tall, slim pear. Do you recognize it? We found it at our little organic food co-op, nestled between the oranges and beets. We had never seen this particular variety, so we scooped one up and brought it home. Well, now we know: if you see these, buy more than one.

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The abate fetel (pronounced ah-BAH-tay fuh-TEL) pear, from what we've read so far, was bred by monks in Italy several hundred years ago. It is very slim and long; some people describe it as banana-shaped. It is usually eaten when just barely soft; you don't have to wait for the fleeting, elusive moment between green woodiness and pulpy mush.

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The taste of this pear was so much better than the more common Anjou and Bartlett varieties. It had a rich sweetness, with a very unusual note: aromatic honey, perhaps. It was deliciously crisp yet melting. It would probably be a heavenly pear to bake with, but when I can find them I am going to eat them fresh.

These are a special treat, since they are grown far away and are rather expensive. But if you have the chance to taste this wonderful pear, do so. Even the seed bed is delicious; don't throw away the core! Eat it all and spit out the seeds. Who knows — maybe you'll get lucky and grow your very own tree.

Have you ever tried this kind of pear?

Related: Recipe: Wilted Arugula and Pear Salad

(Images: Faith Durand)