(Not) Going Pear-Shaped

May 30, 2013

In my last post I mentioned a roast chestnut I’ve had in a coat pocket for 24 years. Now I’ve unearthed another oddity.

An autumn spring clean has reacquainted me with a decorative candle received as a house-warming gift in 1986 – and never used. Maybe the Beurré Bosc pear shape was too nice to melt into a blob, or it held sentimental value. Either way, its time has come. More on that later.

Whenever I cook brown pears, my mother mentions the hot sugary pears she ate in Trieste prior to the 1950s. They weren’t sold at shops but from large metal containers strapped to the shoulders of walking, talking vendors. Pre-cooked and kept warm atop hot coals in a bain-marie arrangement inside these drums, the special small brown pears (peri petorai) were sometimes sold on skewers. Obviously a precursor to the ‘dessert on a stick’ phenomenon now popular.

Photo courtesy National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

George Baldessin’s beauties

Jump to 1983 when I tasted my first pear and dark chocolate gelato in the lovely Tuscan city, Lucca – a flavour combination so special I can still taste it.

Home from the European trip, I was dying to know what Veneto-born Australian artist George Baldessin’s Pear – Version No. 2 steel sculptures at the Australian National Gallery would taste like with a Poire Belle Helene treatment.

Italy loves its pears and is the second-largest producer of pears. In Australia, our pear industry is struggling, with SPC Ardmona bulldozing surplus trees as it tries to compete with cheap imports sold by supermarkets. I used to enjoy Lindt’s Dark Intense Pear flavour but I hear it’s discontinued. If anyone knows otherwise, please tell me so pronto.

pear candle

Cause to celebrate – 1st anniversary post

But back to the pear candle. The ancient Chinese believed the pear was a symbol of immortality as pear trees live a long time, so with no celebratory sparking wine in the house, I’m going to light the candle for this blog’s first anniversary. May it live a long time too.

Hope you continue to enjoy it.

Here’s a Mario Batali recipe combining pears and chocolate.

And something sweet and sticky from Delia Smith: Pears in Marsala

George Baldessin’s Pear – Version No. 2 (’73) image courtesy National Gallery of Aust.


  1. Happy anniversary! Was going to say “what a nice pear”, but somehow carry-on humour seems out of place here! Keep on blogging x

  2. Thanks Augie. Save the Carry On humour for a future post about wobbly jellies! Btw, do you know ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ by Preston Sturges? Got a copy?

  3. Hi there. I am the blog owner of the way we were. I don’t believe I have ever added or subscribed you to my blog. You are not one of the followers either. Can you investigate on your side to see if you accidently added or followed me via your own blog? I apology if this caused you any trouble but I am really clueless. 🙂 Good luck~

    • Hi. I’ve now deleted your posts from my RSS feed so maybe that will work. Again, I love your blog. Keep up the good work.

  4. Fascinated to read about those street vendors in Trieste…..here is another titbit of information about Baldessin’s early influences pre 1949.

    • Hi Tess, and thanks for your comments. I’ve always loved the Baldessin pears so very happy to be able to include them in my post. Just visited your site too – the studio looks like something I could add to my itinerary next time I’m in Melbourne, time permitting. cheers

  5. Congratulations on your blogging anniversary! Pears are definitely a symbol of longevity and health. Your description is gorgeous of how your mother was able to buy precooked pears in Trieste. This recipe from Delia is amazing, thank you for sharing it. Marsala is such an underused alcohol this is refreshing to view and I will cook this soon – there is a bottle of Marsala hiding on the top shelf!

    • Thanks Merryn. I agree about Marsala – it’s such an old-fashioned drink (my parents and their friends used to drink it in the ’50s and ’60s!) but it’s perfect for adding into luscious Italian desserts like tiramisu and pears of course.

  6. Why yes I do!

  7. Lovely pear post. I’m really curious to find out more about those peri petorai.

    • Hi Mette. There’s not a lot of info on the ‘peri petorai’ available, possibly in specialist literature for this region. However I know that the ‘petorai’ refers to the type of pears – small and brown – which are still available from markets occasionally. And the pears were sold, by the vendors, with sugar added while cooking. I’ll try to find more info. cheers

  8. Good for you lighting that 27-year-old candle! How long did it stay pear-shaped? I’m a bit of a candle hoarder – I have a rainbow one from the 70s that I couldn’t bare to light. It’s just so gorgeous, even though the colours are fading.

    • The pear-shaped candle was lit for about 1/2 an hour and it’s now a lop-sided pear shape. I look forward to the next lighting! Maybe you’ll find a special occasion to light that rainbow candle. Something with a 70s theme perhaps?

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