Fruits & Preserves
The Spanish word mermelada (jam) appears to have its roots in the term membrillo (quince). Both the ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated the homonymous quince tree and Roman author Apicius wrote that its pulp was cooked in honey to overcome the natural roughness and acidity of the fresh fruit. Sugar, a fundamental ingredient in the elaboration of quince paste, came to Europe through Spain as a legacy from the Moors who, during their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, planted sugarcane here. Centuries later, one of the maestros of the eighteenth-century Spanish still life, Luis Meléndez, captured the brilliance of quince fruit in his painting entitled Membrillos, melocotones, uvas y calabaza (Quince, peaches, grapes and pumpkin), which hangs in Madrid’s Prado Museum.