the Persimmon Tree
A few years ago, when I was a grumpy senior in High School, the beloved Magnolia tree in our backyard, source of pink blossoms, rambling branches to climb, and many childhood memories passed away. In its place, my parents went to an Asian nursery and brought back a Persimmon tree.
The tree was thin, crooked, and distinctly budget. Maybe there was some haggling involved. I didn’t like it. I wanted a cherry tree, with fluffy pink blossoms. I wanted an apple tree, something that smacked of wholesomeness and Americana. Instead, my parents got something “Oriental”, that I argued had no retail value when the time came to sell our little house and yard (a low blow, since both my parents and I are firmly attached to the idea of growing old in the same place).
The first year in our yard, the squirrels ate nearly all the blossoms. They bit off many thin twigs and branches, leaving a massacre on the grass. What was left turned into small hard fruits, and the wrist-thin trunk sloped to one side.
I went to school. I didn’t call very much, and I forgot about our tree and our backyard.
But my parents took care of the tree and it grew into a beautiful little thing. Now it bears dozens and dozens of fruit– more than a couple of empty-nesters can eat. The pretty orange persimmons hang like Christmas globes on the small but staunch tree.
By nature there are two types of persimmons– astringent types, which unless utterly ripe to the point of bursting, leave a nasty “furry” feeling on the tongue, and non-astringent types, which can be eaten at any stage of ripeness, always lovely and mild. Our little tree is non-astringent. The fruits are always sweet.
Every Thanksgiving now my parents bring a bucketful to my aunt and uncle’s house, and I take the leftovers back to school. When my mom was a child, persimmons were big and squishy and plentiful and overlooked as a poor man’s fruit. Everyone wanted red American apples and bananas that were yellow. The grocer would say, these bananas have been on a plane– now, have you been on a plane? because a little chinese girl isn’t much more than a banana. Now, I savor them, a day at a time, to make the harvest last.
Each one reminds me of my parent’s love and my roots– that I am not as american as apple pie, but that the fruit is sweeter still.
Goat cheese is (was?) trendy, but in my opinion its value is very hit-or-miss. Because of its tanginess, it goes best with sweet, fruity flavors. Here, the combination of sweet persimmon, tangy creamy cheese, and acidic balsamic is perfect. I like it even better than that restaurant favorite combo, beets-and-goat-cheese.
- 2 c mixed spring greens
- 1 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- 2 T toasted sunflower seeds
- 1 fuyu persimmon, *peeled*, sectioned, slightly soft
- 2 T balsamic vinaigrette (or less, to taste.)
Put greens in a salad bowl, and top with segmented persimmon. Crumble on the goat cheese and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Drizzle just enough vinaigrette to cover the top leaves– you want it to be very lightly moistened, and the strong acidity will overpower the delicate fruitiness.
Enjoy, with thanks.