|I wait all year for this fruit|
"Try this! It's good!" she told me one day, pointing at her persimmons display. "No thanks," I replied hastily. "Last time I tried a persimmons it nearly took out my mouth!" I made a face. Eating a persimmon had all the appeal of chewing on some aspirin - and a pretty similar taste.
"Oh, that is Hachiya," she said knowingly. "That needs to be soft, like pudding. This is different. Fuyu. It's okay if it's hard like an apple. It's still sweet."
Mrs. Kim was a nice lady and the persimmons were two for a dollar. I could be a sport.
I tried the fuyu. I was hooked. In retrospect, Mrs. Kim's recommendation was probably the single most important bit of Produce Proselytizing in my life. I needed to pay it forward, and I have.
I approach strangers looking at the strange fruit - fruit that has gotten a little less strange of late, since fuyu seem to have crossed over into the mainstream - and encourage them to try one. "It tastes kind of like pumpkin pie," I tell them. "You can eat them when they're still hard," I tell others. "They're not like the persimmon you might be thinking of. They're different. Better."
I slip them into fruit platters and I offer colleagues a slice or two when they see me snacking. Often they graduate to acceptance of a whole fruit or two.
Fortunately, I don't need to go to Chinatown or particular Asian markets to get fuyus anymore. Turkish and Bengali vendors are happy to stock them. Amazingly, the fuyus sometimes sport supermarket code labels, demonstrating even at humble fruit stands that they're ready to be rung up after the milk and toilet paper.
|Fuyus hitting the big time - with the supermarket produce stickers to prove it.|
Some basic shopping hints:
1) Look for very firm fruit with as deep a color as possible
2) Store in the refrigerator
3) Regard the peel as your friend. A recent New York Times article about persimmons (another piece of evidence that fuyus are crossing over into the Big Time) claimed peeling "made a world of difference" but I find that advice utterly baffling.
You can slice the fuyu, cut it in sections or even eat it with a spoon (more on that later). I like them plain, but if you want to decorate, you could drizzle with honey, any kind of fruit syrup, chocolate sauce or balsamic vinegar.
|A slice is nice|
|You could share this fuyu with seven fuyu newbies and still have a segment for yourself!|
|This fuyu is going undercover as a hachiya|
An overripe fuyu like the one above essentially tastes the same is a "ripe" (i.e., overripe) hachiya. Hachiyas, I should add, are also crossing over into the mainstream. The guys below also feature this season's must-have accessory, the supermarket fruit label. No offense, guys, but I see no reason to buy you. If folks like the custardy consistency, they can just buy the fuyus and forget about them until it's nearly too late. But if they eat the fuyu a little sooner than planned, they won't have to scour their mouths.
|Hachiya persimmons. They don't know that I am insulting them.|
One final note. The end of fuyu season is often marked by the appearance of a Sharon or Carmel fruit, which looks a lot like a fuyu but with a greenish undertone and generally a less rounded appearance. Sharon fruits do not taste as good as fuyus. Personally I regard them as impostors and give them the stink-eye whenever I see them. Sometimes they have the decency to be labeled "Sharon Fruit" or "Carmel Fruit" but they could easily be mistaken for a fuyu that undermines your love for the species.
Large fuyus from Brazil sometimes show up in Spring, aka Brazil's Fall. I don't know the history of this crop in South America, but I assume it caters to Brazil's not-inconsiderable Japanese community. I find these fuyus less flavorful and generally ignore them.
Two days ago I went fuyu shopping in Chinatown and came back empty handed. This morning on the way to work I saw a fruit stand with Sharon fruit. No point being in denial. The season is over.
But there's always next year.
But there's always next year.