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Pear (pyrus communis)
Like the peach, the pear is a member of the Rose family. The Latin genus contains more than 30 species from widely differing climatic areas. The pear was certainly grown by the Romans, who mainly developed it in what is now modern France and Germany, as the climate was very suitable. Varieties were definitely grown in Roman Britain.
New varieties were introduced by the Normans, but were both too expensive for anyone but the aristocracy and also so hard they had to be cooked. There was a saying at the time "raw pears a poison, baked a medicine be"
There are two basic types of pear - "Bartlett"s" and "Seckel"s"; the former being of European origin has a soft texture, the later from Asia, a slightly gritty consistency - because of this they are sometimes called "sand pears" . Other European types are the Comice (originally Coyenne du Comice), and the Concorde (a cross between Conference and Comice)
Other Asian types the Bosc and the Ferelle
Unlike most fruit, pears are better picked under-ripe and allowed to ripen at home - if left on the tree they tend to develop a courser texture than if picked just before they are fully ripe; and generally speaking they can cooked or eaten raw like apples.
In Britain today we now import four out of every five pears we eat. See 'Mostarda Cremonese'. For recipes see Gourmet Britain Recipe section.