Friday, November 08, 2013

horse chestnuts and pears

one morning out in the hector national forest (which is on the maps as the "finger lakes national forest", but the locals all seem to call the "hector national forest")-

-and i was on one o' them roads that don't go through.  on the corner where i was there were horse chestnut trees and a pear tree.

horse chestnuts are wildly interesting to look at, and the nuts themselves are very pretty. they look like you should be able to eat them, but they contain alkaloid saponins and they will make you sick. they will also make your horse sick if he eats them, so i don't know why they get called horse chestnuts.

but pears are good to eat, and there were ripe pears on the tree and on the ground, so i picked up some o' them, making a mental note to come back and see if there were any left when i got ready to come home.

happily on the day i left there to come back home there were indeed a whole buncha pears lying around and i did gather them and i brought them home and made jam with them, along with an apple-pearsauce.

you know, because i'm into foraged foods. every so often a thing i like becomes trendy and popular. for a while it was stylish to say you were into a thing before it was popular, but that's not popular anymore.

anyway, i have come to know a fair amount about apples and feral apples in particular. on any given autumn day i usually have a pile of apples waiting to be peeled for something or an empty forage bag and an apple tree in mind.

but i don't know much about pears. i'd always thought of them like, you know, a different sort of apple?

well, it turns out that pears are their own thing. who knew?

i went to look up the differences between apples and pears and the first thing i learned was that the phrase "comparing apples to pears" exists and is equivalent to "comparing apples and oranges".

the second thing i learned is that when you google "pear", the first things that come up in the search are about pears, but when you google "apple" you have to specify "fruit" else you get pages and pages about ipods and iphones and ipads.

i can't say i've always known that apples properly belong to the rose family, but i don't remember a time that i didn't know it so let's just say always, ok? given that i never really considered pears as something not apple-like, it's not really a surprise to me that pears also belong to the rose family.

and while i was looking up what kind of pear that i picked up (probably a bartlett pear, because there just don't seem to be as many wildly divergent varieties of pear as there are apples) i learned that avocados belong to the laurel family along with cinnamon and sassafrass.


Kristin @ Going Country said...

We have horse chestnut trees on our lawn. They are incredibly fun for kids--breaking open the spiky hull and that shiny nut inside--but I keep meaning to look up why they're called horse chestnuts, because I keep explaining to my son that horses don't eat them and of course he wants to know why and then I wonder why myself and . . . well, I think I'll Google it right now. Thanks for the reminder.

flask said...

your boys might enjoy some version of the game conkers, (charlie's probably too young) and i would like you to it, but since you're off to google, you'll find it yourself in about 3...2...


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