My new friend Abate Fetel

April 21, 2011

By Jo Cooper

The produce manager at my local Whole Foods caught me appreciatively smelling the organic Bartlett pears on sale last night (1.69 a pound) and asked if I had ever tried Abate Fetel? He led me to a mound of slender, elongated greenish pears and explained that they are Italian, and only available briefly at this very time of year.

He kindly cut one open and offered me a long, creamy white slice, with the caveat that it would not be quite as ripe and juicy as he would like. Mmmmmm! Subtly different, with an almost honeyed aftertaste.

These were grown in Argentina, where it is fall right now, and so they appear in the northern hemisphere in our spring. In Italy the pears are called Pere Abate, after the good French Abbott who developed the cultivar in 1866.

While I do try to buy produce grown as locally as possible, the occasional early spring visitor is very welcome, indeed.