Thursday, December 9, 2010

Persnickety About Persimmons

I am usually not a picky eater.  Put most food in front of me and 20 minutes later you'll find an empty plate.  Of course, that hasn't always been the case if you ask my dad or my great grandmother if she were still with us.  My dad has a vivid memory of coaxing me into eating my peas by making a game out of how many peas we could spear on our forks.  As a 4 or 5 year old with my under-developed taste buds, my great grandmother clued me in that the way to down a glass of bitter grapefruit juice was to pinch my nose.  What lengths adults will go to get their young kids to eat healthy food!

Now as a grown up, I love all kinds of different food including the once despised grapefruit juice.  However, I still have a few holdouts I just haven't seemed to be able to overcome.  Persimmons being one of them.

If you are not familiar with Persimmons, they are most prominent in areas with mild winters and moderate summers (like Southern California).  There are several varieties.  The variety I had become familiar with, Fuyu, is considered to be the non-astringent type originating from Japan.  A non-astringent persimmon can be eaten when it is crisp like an apple or in a very ripened state where the fruit's consistency is almost jelly-like.  It's high in glucose, generous in fiber and in traditional Chinese medicine is thought to regulate ch'i.

On a recent visit to our home, my grandmother brought her pretty little bounty of persimmons from the tree she tends in her yard.  I did my best to graciously receive the gift.  If only I liked persimmons!  If only John liked persimmons!  I readily admit in visits past when she happily presented her persimmons, I would only use them as fall decoration.  Every once and awhile, I would slice one up in her presence and try it one more time.  Between the flavor and consistency, I was having trouble becoming a fan.

This year would be different.  I had decided I was going to give persimmons a fresh start -- wipe the slate clean, open my mind and set aside my persimmon prejudice.

Why the change of heart?  A publication released over the summer by the New Scientist, revealed that 16% of the energy consumed in the United States is used to produce food and that 25% of our nation's food is actually going to waste; a majority of it being dairy and vegetables.  In their estimation MORE energy is wasted in perfectly edible food being discarded by people in the US each year than is extracted annually from the oil and gas reserves off the nation's coastlines.  Based on this recent finding, Discovery's Planet calculated the average family throws out an average of $600 year in fruit alone!

In a time where so many are concerned with the energy it takes and the greenhouse gases added to transport and produce fresh, clean food along with the lack of fresh food access to so many, I couldn't help but examine my own habits.  How fortunate am I to live in a climate that provides so much for so little?  Very, I concluded.

It's time for me to change my ways.  I needed to start thinking like a parent.  Find a solution to help me consume those pesky persimmons.  Once I took on the new mindset, the path to eating persimmons was easy.  I found a cookie recipe that uses the ripe pulp of the persimmon.  When the first batch came out of the oven, I had to make sure they were edible (of course).  4 cookies later I determined not only were they edible they were actually very, very good!  John concurred by having just as many.  He's even asked when I'm going to make more!

Like anything new, it will take awhile for this mindset to become habit for me.  But I am determined.  And if all else fails, my food that has gone unused will still be put to good use in my recently installed garden compost bin for future generations of over-ripened fruits and vegetables.

If you have access to persimmons and want to try out the cookie recipe, visit the All site.

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