Pears can be divided into two simple categories: European and Asian.
The former is what we typically think of: a smooth-skinned fruit with gentle bumps and curves in that typical bottom-heavy shape. Asian pears are uniform in color (yellowish-tan) and shaped more like apples, with a completely different texture and taste. Asian pears do not change color after being harvested, whereas some European ones do.
While many of the pears presented in this guide can be found in your local supermarket, gourmet shop, or farmers' market, you can also order harder-to-locate varieties from online companies such as Harry & David and FruitGiftBasketsOnline.com.
Check out the slideshow above for a simple guide to pears.