Tuesday, November 30, 2021

China: Passionate Persimmons in Paradise

My mother said every persimmon has a sun inside, something golden, glowing, warm as my face... Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted. Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one will be fragrant. How to eat: put the knife away, lay down the newspaper. Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat. Chew on the skin, suck it, and swallow. Now, eat the meat of the fruit, so sweet, all of it, to the heart. 

Some things never leave a person; the scent of the hair of one you love, the texture of persimmons, in your palm...           

                                                                                       --Lip Young Lee, a Chinese-American poet

Helping with the harvest of the persimmons in a remote village near Guilin, China

My new favorite color since moving to China is a bold, bright orange--like a burning fire or apricot sunset. Orange is perky, and like Frank Sinatra said, "Orange is the happiest color." In the autumn markets here in China, along with the rotund pumpkins, you can begin to spot other species of the color orange--tangerines, kumquats, and drumroll... the persimmons. They are ubiquitous--everywhere. The persimmons' arrival at the markets always marks a new season of delight for me--like an old friend has come home.

In my kitchen last winter--a gathering of the orange...

Deep-orange persimmons have brightened my moods with plunging sunlight on gray, frozen days here in China. I even give them credit for increasing my happiness during the pandemic. Their juicy, succulent fruit is like honey or jam when you open them. They are like eating sunshine--to the very last drip or drop. (A delicious cake/pudding recipe with persimmons and apples I created is at the end of the post). I have painted and drawn persimmons, eager to see the yellows turn into a bright orange color. I freeze them and mourn their season's end at the end of February or March. Furthermore, persimmons are extremely healthy so there is no guilt to my passion. 😀

Persimmons have been in China for nearly three thousand years; 75% of the world's persimmons are grown here. Several weeks ago in Guangxi province, in the southern part of China, we were able to experience autumn in a new way--to see neverending mountains and groves of persimmon trees. I was dizzy with delight--like a child in a candy store. The endless orange patches of trees were everywhere. The fields and mountains were almost on fire--especially when the leaves fall off the trees, leaving only the bright, orange fruits. 

To watch some villages prepare and get ready for the persimmon season was so fun. Everyone was busily engaged, working together. My favorite part was helping to pick the persimmons with the farmers. To walk through the persimmon groves, with an occasional mound or random grave alongside the trees, well, it was like we were living hundreds of years ago in rural China. Visiting the villages, farms, and factories, where the persimmons are being harvested and prepared for market, was a day I will always remember. We were all celebrating the small, but mighty persimmon.  

Someday, I hope to have a thriving persimmon tree that grows sunshine and joy. 

Persimmon/Apple Cake 

4 cups of cut-up small apples

2 eggs

2 ripe persimmons, separating the fruit inside from the peel

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/2 cup of water

1 cup of chopped walnuts

3 cups flour

2 tsp of baking soda

4 tsp of cinnamon 

Stir the first five ingredients together, and then add the flour mixture. 

Spread a small amount of oil on a 9 x 13 pan, and bake at 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Helping to bring the persimmon crop in....💪😆

The following pictures are in Gongcheng, China, Guangxi province, near Guilin. There are several villages that exclusively grow and harvest persimmons. The season starts in October and ends in February or March. Everyone in the villages, both young and old, are involved for those busy few months. It was interesting to see the villagers collaborate--to grow, harvest, wash, sell, and get ready for the market. It was a beautiful day to be outside, with the misty Guilin mountains in the distance. 

Here is one of many graves of the villagers' ancestors' graves we saw as we tromped around the persimmon groves. The graves are just randomly between the trees.
Just grab a basket, and you can start picking the persimmon crop...

Washing the persimmons

Inside the village. Needless to say, persimmons were everywhere. 

Getting them ready to sell at the market

Elias and his teacher painted persimmons last winter. Obviously, we could not get enough of persimmons. 

No comments:

Post a Comment