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Crisp and Lightly Sweet

Fuyu Persimmons

For someone like me who cannot get through the day without fresh fruit, November provides some interesting alternatives. Because I am in Southern California, some of what I describe may not be available to those of you who inhabit colder climes.

Specifically, I am talking about two fruits that come into their own around now: the Fuyu Persimmon and the Asian Pear. Today, at the Westwood Farmers’ Market, I bought a couple of pounds of each.

Unless you are familiar with them, Fuyus look squat, hard and unripe. If you’ve ever bit into a hard Hachiya Persimmon and got a mouthful of alum, you are unlikely to experiment with Fuyus lest you repeat the negative effects. Fortunately, Fuyus taste good hard. Plus, having no inedible seeds or pits, you can just slice off the stiff top leaves and bite into the whole fruit like an apple without seeds.

You will notice two things right off: First, the Fuyu is quite crisp. And second, it is only lightly sweet. In contrast, a ripe Hachiya is, to my mind, too sweet. I rather like fruits that are not too sweet; that’s why I prefer Deglet Noor dates to the grossly sweet Medjools. Fuyus will keep for a week or more in the crisper of your refrigerator.

Asian Pear

Asian pears are very similar: They are crisp (somewhat like a Honey Crisp Apple) and lightly sweet, though they do have seeds like normal apples and pears. The main difference is that they taste best when peeled.

Predictably, Martine does not like either fruit; though I can’t seem to get enough of them. Not everybody likes the variety of fruit that I eat.

Just to show you how much variety there is in the produce throughout the year, check out this month by month list of what’s in season put out by the Southland Farmers’ Market Association. In contrast, here is what I imagine the offerings are in the Midwest, from which I originally hailed:

January – French Fries
February – French Fries
March – French Fries
April – French Fries
May – French Fries
June – Cherries, French Fries
July – Lots to Choose From
August – Lots to Choose From
September – Melons, French Fries
October – French Fries
November – French Fries
December – French Fries

Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, considering that California and Florida are busy shipping fruits all around the country—especially citrus fruits during the winter months—but the picture tends to be pretty bleak in general.

10 thoughts on “Crisp and Lightly Sweet

  1. very interesting about the dates. my fave can’t get here: loquata. can cure nearly everything with enough loquats……& passion fruit, I remember you don’t like them, I on the other hand have never tasted them fresh. & they contain telepathins, aka harmalines. I have a passion plant, It sends out fronds every season when it’s comming up warm & usually produces a flower, this year though none.

  2. I expect you’ve read brillat-savarin’s the physiology of taste, perhaps in the mfk translation: in her gloss, #31 pg 425: Medlars were called loquats, from the japanese, when I was a child in southern california, and they were the only thing I ever stole. They always seemed to grow outside the tight-lipped houses of very cross old women who would peek at us marauders and shrill at us. There are very few of the tall dark green trees left, and most people have never tasted the beautiful voluptuous bruised fruits, nor seen the satin brown seeds, so fine to hold. The last time I saw loquats was in 1947, in the lobby of the palace hotel in san francisco, many of them almost dead ripe on a long branch in the flower shop there. My early experience as a thieving gourmande warned me that thay would be at their peek of decay in about six hours. That made it midnight. I asked the flower girl if the shop would be dopen then, and she said yes and I was there at midnight, but the fruit was gone. It smelled, she said. Of course I cried sadly to myself, and I left with the ever-remembered perfume in my spiritual nostrils, envying her, thinking with shakespear, “You’ll be rotten ere you be half ripe, and that’s the the right virtue of the medlar…..’

  3. I have not read Brillat-Savarin, and I have never tasted a loquat, though they look very similar to persimmons. Come to think of it, I have never seen loquats for sale in the markets around here. Interesting.

  4. the loquats I ate were in my mother’s garden: dwarf trees so you could reach the fruit easily. they don’t look like persimmons, thy’re (asa I recall, this was in 1972) yellow, & inside are three smooth oval stones.

  5. not sure if you know about brillat savarin: he was an 18th century lawyer who never married but was probably not “gay”, he wrote this book over many years & finally self-published it. since then it’s gone through many translations. I found it marvelous, as did mrs. fisher, she about said she was in love with him, though he had died more than 100 years before.

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