Tuesday, December 9, 2014
I love persimmons. There are few special memories in which persimmons are the stars. Persimmons are the first fruit I remember. They mark a time when I had my first memories of many things. Plus, many of the items I only remember in the context of persimmons.
When I was about thirty-two, I was talking to Mama as I usually did, just rambling on about things that she seemed to enjoy. I was the only child who hung around to talk even as a little child.
As usual, I started out with "I remember when..."
Mama, I remember when we went to pick persimmons when we lived in Fraiser. Do you remember that? I was so hurt when you would made me walk to get persimmons. The year before, you let G (brother) and me ride in the baby buggy. Then, when you had S you made me walk and she and G rode. That really hurt me feelings.
My mother listened in silence, stunned silence. She said, "Linda, I know we have never talked about this before, EVER. I have never told anyone this story. So, you aren't repeating what you heard and thinking you remember the story. I just cannot imagine how you remember this, but you had to have remembered it. You were ONLY two! I don't know how you can remember things when you were only two! I don't remember anything before I was bitten by a snake when I was six and almost died. You were too little to remember." Yet, I did. Then, I told her how the house was laid out, where the furniture and beds were located. She was even more shocked.
We did walk down the gravel road. I am not sure it is called gravel because the small rocks we walked over were the size of golf and tennis balls. Some of the rocks were much larger.
These two early seasons of eating persimmons and our going on foot far away from the house with only Mama are two of the sweetest memories I have.
When I was a teen, we lived in a place with a barn and a chicken yard. The chickens were housed in one of the little sticking out leanto things on a barn side. The chicken yard had a persimmon tree in the middle. I went to the chicken yard to get persimmons that had not yet fallen from the tree. If I dropped one, I let it lay. Any other time and place, I would have picked up the persimmon, dusted it off, and eaten it.
At the first college I attended, there were persimmon trees planted along the frontage and up the driveway. It was at this school that I met my husband. He wondered if those things on the trees were edible. I assured him they were. He asked the name and then said he had never heard of them or eaten one. He was from New York. Since this was early November, I had an idea. I sweetly volunteered to go get one for him. He was thinking very highly of himself to have this Southern girl volunteer to make the long walk just to get something for him.
I handed the shriveled persimmon to him. He was furious I would give him something rotten. He scowled and talked sort of mean in front of people. I suddenly had a better idea, "Oh, okay. I will get a better one."
As I walked down the hall and turned toward the front door, I told everyone he had never had a persimmon, didn't like the rotten one, so I was going to get a better, firmer one for him. People stopped talking and stared at me as I showed him the ripe, rotten-looking persimmon. Ours eyes met. I continued as they tried to stifle their smiles and true feelings. I stopped the college president as he was going into his office and told him as I showed him the nice, ripe persimmon. Our eyes met and he had a gleam in his eyes.
When I returned, I cupped a nice round, firm persimmon in my hand so people could see it, telling them he might like this 'nice' one. The tension was palpable in the hall. I brought him the unripe persimmon and he took a big bite as people dissolved in laughter. The hallway erupted with their shock.
He could not speak, but he managed to say, "Oo di da om pupus?" He gulped water and said the same thing dripping into the water fountain. "You did that on purpose." Of course, it was hard to understand. It was a good joke. Later, I told him not to ever talk to me the way he did when I brought the ripe persimmon.
He finally asked me out and we dated and married. I am quite sure the students and professors who were in the hall and the ones who came out to see him with the astringent persimmon have never forgotten the incident.
The astringent taste is tannin. This is a health hazard. No matter how much water you drink, the astringency remains for way too long.
The secret to ridding your mouth of this feeling/taste? Drink buttermilk. I ran to the house as a teen to find a way to relieve my distress and grabbed buttermilk and poured a glass. One sip ended my problem. Even people who hate buttermilk will probably prefer buttermilk to the astringent persimmon feeling.
For about ten years, I visited a persimmon tree after the first hard frost and ate a few each day. Finally, one summer it was removed. I was so sad about the loss. I just parked at the curb to get my persimmon fix on public property. Right now, I have no idea where there are persimmons that are free.
Persimmons, ripe ones, are good for you. The tannin can be removed in unripe fruit, making them edible. Try google. Plus, something called bezoars (lumps) form in the stomach when too many unripe fruit is consumed.
The skin is NOT the problem and the black is okay.
First man, you probably have virginiana or texana variety, not Fuju or hachiya...probably spelled wrong. You do not want to wait so long that the fruit drips or smells like it is going to wine.
Do you have a cure for the astringency? Have you ever gotten an unripe persimmon?