I'd seen quinces everywhere from markets to the medieval gardens at The Cloisters museum in upper Manhattan, but never had I eaten, much less prepared them. Sitting benignly next to the apples and pears in the store, the quince looks like you should just be able to wash and eat it. Not a good idea. Quinces need to be cooked.
But oh, who would guess how delightful they are when you go to that trouble! Or that they turn from basic pear-colored-flesh to a deep, rosy hue. Definitely worth it.
I adapted a recipe from The Food of Morocco cookbook, and while I reworked the technique slightly and in the end cooked and ate the peels (for guests I would peel them but they taste fine), it did inspire the lemon zest and rosewater.
Basically I cut the quinces in quarters and cored them (peel if desired), and placed them in a saucepan. I covered them with water, tossed in some lemon zest and agave (sugar works, of course), and simmered for a long time (a couple of hours) till they turned rosy. I removed the quinces and added rosewater to the liquid in the pan, and simmered the liquid about 10 minutes more to thicken the syrup slightly.
We ate most of the quinces by themselves with the syrup drizzled on top, though I also tried them with vanilla ice cream. And the results of my first foray into cooking quinces? Well, upon my suggestion that we share the rosy fruit with friends, there was a general revolt! Needless to say, the rest of the quinces were jealously guarded until consumed in our own kitchen.