If it be not ripe, it will drawe a man’s mouth awrie, with much torment; but when it is ripe, it is delicious as an Apricocke.
Captain John Smith (1580-1631)
A small grove of ancient-seeming, gnarly persimmon trees came with the century-old house we bought years ago on Mistletoe. Whether past their fruit-bearing years or asexual, they never provided us with any of the fruit regarded as a symbol of prosperity for the New Year by the Japanese.
Dismissing the trees in the genus Diospyros as old-fashioned relics, I do not recall gazing upon the fruit until this Thanksgiving. Yet the Greek translation of Diospyros is “fruit of the gods.”
But there they were, a plastic carton cradling eight glistening orange persimmons capped with a warm brown hat shaped like the flower of a dogwood – perfect to throw into the mix of gourds, winter squash, pomegranates, mums and fall leaves we stretch down the middle of the three long tables we fill at Thanksgiving. Leftovers dispersed with relatives heading back across the country, huge acorn squash and persimmons remained.
Although reticent to risk ruining dinner, the persimmons looked too perfect to toss. I plunged in and made a dinner of roasted acorn squash with cilantro pesto and a persimmon pilaf. The following night, the combination became a creamy rich soup.
I’ll never snub a persimmon again.
The persimmon’s mouth-puckering reputation seems unjust, as poet Max Reif wrote:
Should any of us
before we’re ripe?
Noted Added on December 2: Here I have just discovered the persimmon only to find out a grove on the south side of San Antonio is about to be bulldozed. A small “save the persimmons” movement has sprung forth on facebook.