Sunday, December 09, 2007


THE PERSIMMONS OF HIERONYMUS BOSCH


Yesterday morning out in the waning mist clearing some more oak limbs, then out along the road stripping vines from where they riff along the tops of the tall kinmokusei in a beautiful autumn arrangement of golden hearts while working to strangle the trunk and limbs below, I hailed an upmountain neighbor, Mr. U., doing much the same thing out on his section of the road, and we got talking abut the goings on of the trees and land, life up here in general.

As we talked I gazed uproad into the demistifying scenery and saw there the wild persimmon trees I know are there but had forgotten about (the mind has its rooms and cupboards), what with all the outdoor and indoor stuff that has been filling my head as I know it.

The persimmons, conducting their own business not far from the roadside, were leafless now and in full display, hung with bright orange globes lit by the slant of morning sun like this was somewhere in the mind of Hieronymus Bosch, or even better, Le Douanier... I resolved to enter that depiction beyond price and grab a bunch of those goldies before the other monkeys got there, the red-faced yet conscienceless ones...

When I finally got up there I took my hand scythe from a cargo pocket of the skateboarder pants I use for gardening (lots of gussets, grommets, big+little pockets, superseams, fabric backup in the right places, built to last), so I could reach higher than pedestrian passersby (mainly mountain hikers and wild fooders) had been reaching; crowded as the trees were, all the low-hanging fruit was already gone. I used the scythe to hook the higher branches down to arm's reach and soon had a bag full of the large and small varieties of bright orange worlds (I also always have a big plastic shopping bag folded up in one of my cargo pockets for wildfooding).

One thing you can say about wild persimmons is that as hieronymous as they may appear from a distance, up close they can be really ugly. But don't let that fool you, it doesn't affect the flavor, seems to enhance it in fact. Wildness is like that; it brings to everything edible that certain flavor edge that is lost in the strictures of domestication. When wild persimmons ripen to softness, especially the tiny ones, there's not much there once you get the peel off, but what there is is really wild.

Flavor you just can't get in a painting.

4 comments:

Winston said...

Just curious... Here in Tennessee it is quite common to find a 'possum in the 'simmon tree, especially at night, feasting until they can hardly move. Seems the orange fruit is their favorite delicacy. Do you have 'possums in Japan, or some indigenous equivalent with which you must spar for rights to the 'simmon crop?

Winston
http://nobodyasked.com

Bob Brady said...

No, only monkeys; trade ya fer possums, that won't eat my onions and mushrooms too...

Anonymous said...

What's the tannin content like in wild persimmons? I recently bought some here in the UK (where they don't grow) and they were inedible!

Wembley

Bob Brady said...

You have to be sure to get ALL the peel thoroughly off, the peel is powerfully astringent. Or the persimmons you bought may not be ripe yet; leave them to soften a bit, if peeling doesn't help. They can be bright orange but not yet ripe, though they can be sweet when still hard, sweeter when soft... They'll show you what to do; cut along the faint 'cross' lines on the bottom, so you don't hit the seeds...