Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Persimmon memories

Not only am I feeling crushed by the usual holiday stress, and the cookie (almost) debacle of last week, but it is also suddenly persimmon season!  This is a good thing (I keep reminding myself), as I find myself blessed with fruit from a friend's tree.

I will blog tomorrow about the drying process, which has me busy during my waking hours, using my dehydrator to preserve this seasonal bounty.  I had almost given up on it this year, except Teddy asked me if I was planning to dry any persimmons?  I am the most avid persimmon fan in the house, and it helps motivate me when Teddy reminds me that he likes them too.  Especially the dried ones.

Today, I want to share with you all why I am particularly fond of persimmons--especially the much-maligned Hachiya variety.  These pointy- bottomed fruit are not ripe until they are completely mushy.  The unaware would easily think they had spoiled.  This link has a clear photo if you scroll down.  I totally understand how some people can be turned off by it.  I am the only one in my family who can tolerate hachiya's mushy ripe texture--but I LOVE it.

I grew up on the East Coast, and I never saw a single persimmon growing up.  I introduced my brother and his wife to the fuyu persimmon (eat when firm, like an apple) just this year when I was visiting.  We had to go to a special Asian grocery, as they were not available in the regular stores where they live.  (Gotta love California--the supermarkets have EVERYTHING here, and always so fresh!  Purple potatoes?  Got it.  Cactus fruits?  Right over here.  Jicama, arugula, vegetables I'd never heard of or seen before are common everyday items here.  We are so spoiled!)

When I was in Korea (back in my college days), my host family bought some mushy ripe hachiyas off a street vendor, and offered me one.  I looked at the fruit, which appeared to be rotting, frankly, and had no idea what to do with it.  I am usually not that adventurous with new foods, but I didn't want to offend them, so I copied their movement.  Holding the stem side down, we split the mushy bottom with our thumbs to separate into 4 gooey pieces, which we placed in a bowl.  We then took one section, and ate the soft innards, leaving the outer skin intact.  As I bit into the soft fruit, I was overwhelmed by 2 impressions:
  1. This fruit was INCREDIBLY sweet, and
  2. I have had this before!!
It had been 16 years since I had left Korea as a 6-year old heading for my adoptive family.  During those formative years, I am quite certain I was never within 10 miles of a ripe hachiya persimmon.  And yet, eating that fruit in Seoul with my friend, I knew for certain that it had been a favorite food when I was under 6-years old.  At the time, I was totally blown away by this experience, and eager for more "sense" memories to reconnect me to my roots.  Retelling the story now, I am getting teary-eyed.

Now you know why I love persimmons.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this story...but it reminds me of another you have--tell us about the rose petals!!

    And no, those squishy, mushy persimmons are alllll yours!


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