What is quince? And what, really, is paste? These are two questions I found myself wrestling with as I held Trader Joe’s Quince Paste in my hand. Some serious research would have to be done, that I was sure of, but would it all be worth it in the end? With my trademark, devil-may-care laugh I tossed the quince paste into my basket and checked out – ready, as always, to gamble on a reckless impulse. If only I knew then what I know now – that I’d just been duped into buying an inferior product!
Trader Joe’s Quince Paste was so prettily packaged, hanging on the rack like a pack of new cards, and so exotically named (not jelly, not jam – but paste) that I just had to go for it. The package screams decadent exoticism – quince! Imported for New Zealand! Perfect compliment to artisanal cheese! I was unbearably excited to get it home, sit down with my block of Trader Joe’s Quintupled English Cheese and try it out. You, my good friend, need not get so excited yourself.
The quince paste is little more than a rather ordinary slab of jelly in unusual packaging. Paste, to me, calls to mind a thick, heavily textured spread – tomato paste, for instance, or bean paste, or a nice liver paté. This is just a jelly, maybe a bit thicker than ordinary jelly – a little bit – , but still just jelly.
So that’s illusion number one popped. If you’re looking for an exotic paste, don’t get this, because it’s gelatinous and jiggly and just a mundane, regular jelly.
But it’s still quince, right? Exotic quince, brought to us from far off shores? The fabled quince of legend – that Adam and Eve are rumored to have eaten ‘ere the fall? The fruit rumored to possess a sweet, intense aroma reminiscent of pineapple, guava, pear and vanilla all at once? The flesh of which is all but inedible while raw, but which transumtes to a sweet, translucent pink when cooked? That quince?
The very same. I’ve never had quince before – all the above has come to me by rumor, hearsay and Wikipedia articles – but this, I can tell you, does not live up to the legend. Trader Joe’s Quince Paste is so thoroughly processed and sugared up that it has lost any of it’s innate character. It just tastes sweet, with some faint fruity undertone that isn’t strong enough or distinct enough that you could put any sort of name to it.
I was forced to put my block of fine cheese down, disappointed. Quince paste isn’t a bad jelly, but it isn’t any more than a jelly, a jelly just like any other. If I had the dollars back, I’d spend it on a different, more interesting condiment, or at least a larger jar of some other regular jam. As it stands, if you buy Trader Joe’s Quince Paste you’ll have to be wowed by the exotic name alone – the product simply doesn’t do it.
Would I Recommend It: There’s nothing really to recommend it by.
Would I Buy It Again: Not while fine jellies, jams and preserves are available.
Final Synopsis: Try out a different jelly before bothering with this lackluster spread.