From the Los Angeles Times:
Forty miles east of Bakersfield, in this remote, sparsely settled valley, an orchard rises from the arid scrubland like a medieval vision. It bears a peculiar fruit steeped in history and literature but so obscure that few Americans have heard of it, and whose very name evokes both curiosity and derision. It is California's own medlar orchard, whose crop is arriving in Los Angeles this week.
The medlar, which resembles a russeted crabapple with an open blossom end, is a pome fruit, kin to apples and pears, and most closely related to hawthorns. It is hard, dry and astringent when immature, but after a mysterious ripening process called bletting, its cell walls break down, its tannins are reduced, and its pulp turns brown and custardy.