Sunday, November 14, 2010

Two Pair of Pears

My husband and I just celebrated our anniversary and a funny thing happened. We bought each other the same card. While we often joke that we are two people with one brain (we read each other's mind a lot) in this case I blame it on Beatrice and Virgil, a novel by Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi, one of my favorite books. I recently read Beatrice and Virgil and also listened to it on audio. One day when Pritchard Parker and I were in the car together, I played my favorite part of the book for him.  

The scene opens when Virgil expresses his desire for a pear, Beatrice reveals she has never seen a pear and asks him to describe one.  I can't quote the entire passage, but here are some juicy excerpts in Virgil's words.

"To start with, a pear has an unusual shape. It's round and fat on the bottom, but tapered on top.

It's a pale, translucent yellow, moving towards beige, but not creamy, more watery, approaching the visual texture of a watercolour wash.

A ripe pear bruises easily, so it must be handled with care.

The pear is characterized by a thin roughness, delicate and interesting to the touch.

The skin of a pear is soft and yielding when ripe.

A ripe pear breathes a fragrance that is watery and subtle, its power lying in the lightness of its impression upon the olfactory sense.

The mind is arrested, spellbound, and a thousand and one memories and associations are thrown up as the mind burrows deep to understand the allure of the beguiling smell.

A pear overflows with sweet juiciness.

Slice a pear and you will find that its flesh is incandescent white. It glows with inner light. Those who carry a knife and a pear are never afraid of the dark.

The texture of a pear is a difficult matter to put into words. Some pears are a little crunchy. Not at all like an apple! An apple is not eaten, it is conquered. The crunchiness of a pear is far more appealing. It is giving and fragile. To eat a pear is akin to kissing.

The flesh of a pear can be slightly gritty. And yet it melts in the mouth.

The taste of a good pear is such that when you eat one, when your teeth sink into the bliss of one, it becomes a wholly engrossing activity. You want to do nothing else but eat your pear.  You would rather sit than stand. You would rather be alone than in company. You would rather have silence than music. All your senses but taste fall inactive.  You see nothing, you hear nothing, you feel nothing--or only as it helps you to appreciate the divine taste of your pear.

And if I had one, I would give it to you."

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