What the hell is a genesimmon?

A guest post by Dave!
I discovered persimmons one year in college when I spent Thanksgiving at my friend's aunt's house. She was, to put it mildly, a foodie, and I got introduced to a lot of new things that visit. My friend and I rode the train up to Berkeley and went directly to the restaurant where her aunt worked, for dinner.

Since I couldn't decide between two desserts, Aunt Catherine suggested I have both. One was a persimmon pudding, and I forget what the other one was. I was eighteen and the world was swimming. I'd never been to Berkeley, I'd never met a professional chef, and I'd never had a dessert like this. Aunt Catherine also had a little bowl of persimmons at her house and I had some every day for breakfast while I was there. Persimmons are the ultimate fall fruit.

When I got back from break I emailed all of my friends about the persimmon. My friend Jason replied, "What the hell's a genesimmon?"

The above persimmon is the Fuyu variety. It gets softer as it gets more ripe, but you can pretty much eat it any time, like an apple. The other common variety of persimmon is the Hachiya. It is pointy like an acorn, instead of tomato-shaped like the Fuyu. It is also an astringent variety, which means you must let it ripen until it is a nearly mushy pudding-like blob, so soft you think it must be rotten (but it's not). Otherwise it is terrible to eat.

Back to the Fuyu-- my favorite way to eat it is to peel it, cut it into chunks, and squeeze a lime over it. That's the best. Or, you can make a salad like I remember Aunt Catherine making.

The vinaigrette can be made with about 3 parts walnut oil to one part balsalmic vinegar, salt to taste. If it seems a little sweet, a squeeze of lemon will work things out.

But, if you're like most people and don't have walnut oil in the cupboard (besides, it goes rancid rather quickly), you can make your own with olive oil. First, chop and toast the walnuts for your salad, 4-5 minutes at 350F. Then combine the hot walnuts and the olive oil for your dressing in a pan an heat on low for 5 or 10 minutes. Be careful the walnuts don't get too dark/burnt! Since hot oil doesn't make for good salad dressing, you'll need to chill everything for a bit.

For the rest of the salad, slice Fuyu persimmons and Asian pears; toss with Belgian endive (frisee) or a salad mix, the toasted walnuts, and pomegranate seeds.


Alison said…
YAY! This is wonderful...I just bought my first ration of persimmons a week ago, and I am thrilled that it is fall and I am eating them up! I'm glad that you remember this Thanksgiving trip as fondly as I do...

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