by Kim Martins
The forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden was a quince Mum always said, holding the bulbous yellow fruit as though it were a bonny baby, admiring its knobbly flesh, breathing in its soft guava-pineapple smell.
“They’re a bit like your father,” she’d laugh. “Tart but sweet when cooked.” My childhood was stuffed with quince marmalade, quince jelly, poached quince.
I walk into the kitchen, disappearing into the nineteen-seventies, no surface safe from orange walls, wood panelling or paisley patterns. An avocado green coffee maker with an atomic starburst design sits on the bench. “Jeez Dad,” I say. “Does that old thing still work?”
“Of course it does,” he snaps. “The seventies were damn fine years; men were men slugging it out in the jungles of Vietnam. Putin was KGB, not half-naked on a horse posing for some glossy calendar.”
I was stung by his words, belonging to someone I didn’t know, not the teddy-bear father of my youth.
We look towards the stove, imagining my mother wearing her frilly apron, glasses foggy from the steaming pot of beef stew with carrots and potatoes, relaying gossip from the coffee ladies in her tinkling voice.
I put my hand on Dad’s shoulder. I feel him slump.
“I thought I’d fry up some mince for tea,” he says. “What do you think your mother would have cooked with it? How about quince? Yes. Quince and mince, she’d do that,” he says, and heads out the backdoor to the quince tree.