They dined on mince, and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon.
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The fruit of this shrub of the rose family, native to Persia and Turkestan, has been cultivated since ancient times--and was easily naturalized in the Mediterranean area. The ancients dedicated quince to Aphrodite, and they were spread by Roman soldiers throughout the empire as a favored crop. In 812, Charlemagne himself exhorted the French to grow more of them. Chaucer, in medieval England, refers to them as coines, the French name.
Li Ch'ing Chao, 11th century Chinese poet, conjures them from a drunken dream (trans. J.A. Turner):
Last night in the light rain as rough winds blew,
The stemless, fuzzy fruits are yellow or green in color, globular or pear shaped, fragrant, but notoriously astringent.