Monday, December 7, 2009

Fu Me? FuYu!! (Persimmons)

Dear Mouse,

Happy Winter! I give you... The Persimmon.

It's easy to think cold weather means saying goodbye to fresh fruit entirely. Oh sure there's the early-fall love affair with apples, and the Cranberry, the Gem of Thanksgiving, but in December one often finds oneself sighing, "Well, see you in July. Bring me some roots and tubers." And in a sense I support this.. no enormous, tasteless, genetically engineered, flown-from-far-away carbon footprint style berries for me. And don't get me started on bananas. I WILL get all Barbara Kingsolver on your A**.

But did you know... that there are fruits that dont find their footing (I just saw a pear with socks) UNTIL it's winter? IN SEASON NOW: beautiful, winey options like pomegranate or quince, tart citrus like clementine and grapefruit, chewy-candy dates and kumquats, and these lovely sunset-colored freaks that are the focus of this post.

Important to note: Fuyu Persimmons (squat and round) are more user-friendly - edible and sweet right when you buy them. Hachiya Persimmons (pictured above) are more quirky and apparently taste like sandpaper dipped in sherry unless they are perfectly ripe.

Saturday morning, I arose bleary-eyed and hungry after Joe's Pub to meet Mr. and Mrs. Poet for brunch at the Brooklyn Star, which I duly adored despite the lack of Bloody Marys on the menu. (Mm, warm apple griddle cakes). We then spent a cold, rainy afternoon in the kitchen, where we often find ourselves. Mrs. Poet, who is going to kill me for giving her that name, is a Fierce Foodie (AND backup singer, as it turns out). We sorted through Hanukkah and Solstice recipes for upcoming feasts while Mr. Poet hovered over his manuscript in the next room. Umbrellas dripped in the stairway, the sky turned white, and the first snow of the season came hurtling down outside.

This was not a setting in which I expected to make a new Fruit Friend-- a sunny, vibrant, orange one, at that. But somewhere between "What kind of cupcake goes with whipped brandy butter?" and "Do you want me to bring the bacon-wrapped dates?", she laid it on me. On a white plate between us and our coffee cups were a few clementine slices, and this:

"It's like a tomato and a mango had a baby. You'll like it."
I told you she was a poet.

Pushing aside the thought of eating something's baby (which, for real, we do all the time), I bit into it. And I have to say that description is pretty spot-on, except it's more harmonious than it sounds. It's not the bursting lushness of berry or the sunshine sweetness of mango or even the tart/bitterness you expect from winter fruit. (Here's where I wrote a whole "Up in the Air"-inspired analysis comparing a persimmon to Vera Farmiga's character and then deleted it - you're welcome.) The texture really is tomato - soft but sturdy - but with a subtle, barely-sweet flavor and a wistful, modest perfume. ("Wistful"?) By the last piece on the plate, I was all, "I'm gonna make me some salsa out of these things."

Or this chutney, which will be dressing our Winter Solstice Pork Chops. You can thank me later.


The Boo

1 comment:

annie said...

funny. and i learned. what else is there?