Friday, December 3, 2010

Persimmon and other stuff...

The Persimmon, or as the Italians and Japanese say, "kaki", is a most wonderful fruit.  When I first tasted it, in Rome in 1974, I was so amazed at its rich sweet taste, and amazed that I had never heard of it earlier. I asked what the American name was and someone at the table, after a while, came up with persimmon.  I had heard of persimmon, but mostly in a slightly derogatory tone.  Maybe once or is hard to put meaning to something when you don't know to what it is being referred.  Anyway it is more than scrumscious, and it is only available in November.  Could be why I came to Italy in November....I have had more Kaki than I have ever dreamed of in the last 2 weeks.  It is interesting that the Japanese and Italian word is basically the same.  Italy only received these great fruits about 1900, while the Japanese had them for a millenia, or more.  They are not mentioned in the Tale of Genji, as most things of important imperial interests are, so it may less than 1000 years.  Certainly it was the opening up of Japan in 1859-69 which started spreading Kaki and so much Japanese aesthetic influence around the world, including those famous prints which have interested  the last few generations of artists.

Can't wait 'till next November!


  1. I had a similar experience in Spain. There is a common, delicious fruit there that I think in English is a quince? It's been almost a year, so I don't know if I'm remembering correctly. But once again, no real reference point. Isn't it funny what we think we know? Even something simple like fruit.

  2. The membrillo? There is a quince tree outside the old farmhouse in East Hampton, where the old kitchen door used to be. It has not produced fruit for most of not all of my life, but I am sure that it was planted in 1800 or so and has beautiful little blossoms. The word 'marmalade' comes from quince, in Portuguese..