By Harold McGee
Pears are fruit of the genus Pyrus, more temperamental to grow than the apple and less common, but called by some “the queen of fruit” for their refinement of flavor, texture, and shape. Pears are less tart than apples, and denser. The familiar elongated European pears, with mostly smooth flesh, are varieties of the west Asian Pyrus communis. “Asian pears” are varieties of two species native to China but intensively improved in Japan, P. pyrifolia and P. ussuriensis. They have a juicy but crisp flesh, more or less gritty with cellulose-rich “stone cells,” and may be elongated or apple-shaped. The characteristic aroma of pears comes from several esters, including the “pear ester” (ethyl decadienoate).