Bounty of the harvest available locally

Tasting in the moment

When I was a kid growing up in Calgary back in the 70s, shopping for groceries was a much simpler exercise.

For example, the selection of fresh fruit was much more limited - and in some cases less appealing- than it is today. Imported fruit was only available in its season - except for bananas, and maybe some grapes. Those along with apples, oranges and pears were the common eating fruits.

Pears were the fruit I just couldn’t stand - unless they were from a can. The fresh ones were overripe and mealy, with a bitter taste. The canned ones at least had better texture if not much in the taste department.

Now, as an “Amma” (Icelandic for Grandma), I will regale our granddaughter with tales of how luscious the pear trees are where we live, and how delightful the fruit tastes. Living in the Okanagan during summer and fall when produce is being harvested, we have the chance to really understand what fresh food tastes like. It is truly magical.

I am blessed to live next to the orchards of Paynter’s Fruit Market on the Westside, so I walk through them every day. On an autumn morning when the light is just right, the ripe pears on the trees glow like fairy lanterns. If you get them fresh from the market, you can taste the fairy’s magic, I’m sure.

Paynter’s has many varieties of pears, all worth sampling for their unique tastes and textures, but the pears of my youth were Bartletts (the most commonly grown pear outside Asia), and they are now my favourite.

Pears ripen from the inside out, so you should pick one that doesn’t look too ripe or it will be mushy. But hit it just right and with a Bartlett you get a combination of floral, honey and - well, pear - notes. Nothing at all like those mealy fellows I knew as a kid and dreaded in my lunchbox. I’m so glad I didn’t write them off for life.

The Bartletts have been picked at Paynter’s but there are Boscs and Anjous still available for u-pick if you want the do-it-yourself experience. (They have Italian plums too, second only to the beloved Damsom on my palate). Contrary to Bartlett’s, these pears with firmer flesh keep much better. Jennay, the owner of Paynter’s, told me once that Anjous are also known as “Christmas pears”, as they can be kept for eating then if stored properly.

Do yourself a favour in the next week or two and make an afternoon of it: visit a local farm stand and support their family as you make memories with yours. Take the time to savour the taste of the fruit you pick and take in the fall colours as you enjoy it. If you look carefully, you might even catch a glimpse of a fairy.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories