Poached quince, from Australia: The Cookbook. Photograph by Alan Benson
Poached quince, from Australia: The Cookbook. Photograph by Alan Benson

Australia in 5 unusual dishes: Poached Quince

Australia’s answer to Alice Waters resurrected this long-forgotten fruit, explains Australia: The Cookbook

Order a copy of Australia: The Cookbook and you’ll be able to do much more than throw a good barbecue. Sure, this comprehensive new title (a new addition to our award-winning national cuisine series), features familiar antipodean dishes such as anzac biscuits, chicken parmi and barbecued shrimps. However, it also includes an incredible - and incredibly delicious - selection of recipes that, in their own way, tell the story behind the culinary and cultural development of this island nation.

In the book’s introduction, the Australian food writer and chef Ross Dobson, describes the successive waves of immigration to the country, bringing European, East Asian and Middle Eastern dishes to the country.

 

A landscape image, from Australia: The Cookbook. Photograph by Alan Benson
A landscape image, from Australia: The Cookbook. Photograph by Alan Benson

 

However, he also describes the ways in which Australians have returned to certain dishes, in the same way that chefs in the US, the Nordic countries, Great Britain and elsewhere, have reinvigorated old classics. 

Take, for example, the quince. “This old and noble fruit needs some time and attention for it to transform into ruby-red slivers,” Dobson writes in the introduction to his recipe for poached quince. “The fruit is native to the Mediterranean and thrives in the climate of South Australia. The earliest recipes appear in the 1880s.”

Cooked by early settlers it fell out of favour in the 20th century, until one prominent cook and proud Aussie set about restoring its place in the country’s culinary culture.

 

Ross Dobson, photograph by Melinda Sanders
Ross Dobson, photograph by Melinda Sanders

 

Dobson describes how, in recent years, “Australian chef Maggie Beer, like the American chef Alice Waters, was drawing attention to the provenance of produce.

“Beer started a successful quince paste business. She says of her early days in the Barossa region of South Australia ‘...almost every property I visited, even those with dwellings almost in ruins, there would be a quince tree still standing. I became enamoured of them in all the seasons, in their different forms, and being so available in the climate I simply couldn’t bear them going to waste and at first put ads in the paper wanting to buy quinces from the locals.’” Dobson explains. “This was the start of many great things for Maggie and the Australian food scene in general.”

 

Australia: The Cookbook
Australia: The Cookbook

 

The recipe in our new book calls for a little bit of Grand Manier, some sugar, a vanilla pod and quite a lengthy cooking time of four hours. However, at the end of that you’ll not only have a delicious dessert, but also an edible piece of Australian culinary history, For the full recipe and much more besides order a copy of Australia: The Cookbook here.