Those innocent words dropping from the lips of a helpful assistant in a fruit shop in the country town of Wallingford are still clear in my mind. Very little else of those heady days, in the early 70′s, is clear in my mind save for the memory of a constant, nagging hangover. Shooting the Habitat catalogue entailed a group of us staying in a very pleasant hotel for weeks on end so that we could spend fruitful days shooting pictures for the catalogue in the nearby warehouses that became our studio. It was the era when I was approaching photography in the same way as a Kamikaze pilot approaching Pearl Harbour save that I had not left the sake behind on the aircraft carrier, I was drinking it all the way there and, unusually for a Kamikaze pilot, all the way back. Crashing and burning was fine as I always seemed to wake up the next morning, engine coughing and spluttering, but still running. The Divine Wind was blowing a gale. To steady myself, for my duties behind the camera, I would pass by the fruit shop for my daily health ritual. Wreathed in a cloud of my own cigarette smoke I would look hard at the fruit in the hope that there would be a sign as to which sort would immediately restore me to the Godlike figure that I had been up the moment that I fell down, the previous evening. On the morning in question I made a rapid choice and uttered the fateful question ” Are those pears good?”. The puerility that was in direct proportion to the amount of alcohol still sloshing around in my system would not permit me to engage in a conversation regarding the firmness of a pair of anything, so I ordered a bag of plums.
Fast forward to this week, and pears loom large in my life yet again. The discovery of the Passe Crassane pear has been somewhat of an Epiphany. Recent posts have featured pear cake after pear cake because I’ve become very keen on pear cake. Up to this point I had opted for the particular firmness of the Conference pear. It was Jenny who spotted this wonderfully named and unusually flavoured pear. It’s a hybrid between pear and quince which brings a citrussy, nearly pineapple note with it. Such a pear eaten with Roquefort is a very good thing.