|Red and Green D'Anjou Pears|
March 15th, which is best-known as the Ides of March an ominous day for Caesar in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, is also on a more pleasurable note National Pears Hélène Day—not a holiday that runs trippingly off our tongues, but a day when we can celebrate a fruit that many of us love to look at, draw, and eat. Originally from Asia, pears, have been around a long time. Homer in the Odyssey referred to them as “a gift of the gods.” The thousands of varieties of pears that we know today in the United States come to us largely from Washington, Oregon, and California. These pears are the progeny of those brought along the Lewis and Clark Trail to Oregon and Washington in the 1800s. While early attempts to grow pears in the Northeast did not fare well, the combination of light, of rich volcanic soils, and of the more European-like weather of the Northwest turned out to be an ideal environment for pears. We are thankful for this confluence of factors to produce the juicy, delectable, flavorful fruit so many of us enjoy. Not only that but they are healthy eating: pears are a good source of Vitamins A and C as well as antioxidants, fiber and potassium. The green and red D’Anjou pears, Pyrus communis, in my drawing not only inspired my drawing, but they also ended up as part of a salad (the green one) and as a delicious dessert (the red one)—not quite as sweet and tasty as Pears Helene, but good anyway.
But since I mentioned it, you will have guessed that National Pears Hélène Day comes with a recipe and it is quite decadent—warm poached pears, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce. It was created by the famous chef Auguste Escoffier and was named after the Offenbach opera, “La belle Hélène.” I’m not sure if you have to listen to the music while you eat it, but it might add a nice touch. I’m including Nigella Lawson’s