for the Job
An interview conducted by Jane Staley Boaz
Determined to find an uncommon fruit to feature in dishes for
fall gatherings and holiday celebrations, I recently posted
the following ad in my local newspaper.
Help Wanted: Seeking an unconventional, autumn fruit with seasonal
appeal, striking appearance and distinctive flavor. Proven versatility
and experience in both sweet and savory dishes required. Must
be available to start immediately. Apples and pears need not
Both Hachiya Persimmon and Fuya Persimmon replied. After speaking
to each of them over the phone, I invited both Persimmon sisters
to my kitchen for a formal interview.
When the Persimmons arrived, I noticed several prominent family
features- taught and glossy skin, orange coloring and sage green
caps. Beyond that, each sister sported her own distinctive characteristics.
Hachiya, about 3 inches round with a pointed base, resembled
a super-sized acorn. Her complexion was deeper and more vibrant
than her sisterís.
Fuya, petite by comparison, looked more like a miniature pumpkin
or slightly flattened tomato. Her yellow-orange coloring was
less conspicuous than Hachiyaís red-orange peel.
Personalities differed, too. At the outset of the interview,
I found Hachiya bitter and unappetizing. But she gradually revealed
a softer, sweeter side that made her an appealing candidate
for the fall fruit position.
Conversely, Fuyaís demeanor never changed. She remained consistently
crisp and efficient throughout our meeting. As engaging as her
sister, Fuya also appeared an apt contender for the next-great-seasonal-fruit
Hachiya and Fuya eagerly answered my questions. They seemed
to enjoy sharing the details of their culinary experience- even
if their responses were occasionally punctuated by sibling jabs.
I knew it would be difficult to choose between the Persimmon
sisters. Perhaps youíll understand how I arrived at my hiring
decision after reading the transcript of my interview with them.
JSB: Please tell me a little bit about your
Fuya: Well, I speak for both of us when I say that we are native
to China. Our family has spread throughout the world, first
to other Asian countries including Japan and Korea, and then,
in the mid 1800ís to the United States- specifically the state
of California. Hachiya and I are the Persimmons most commonly
found here in the States, but there are more than 2000 varieties
in our family world-wide.
Hachiya: And, we insist on moderate, sub-tropical
climates where both winters and summers are mild. Nothing less
will do for a Persimmon!
JSB: I see. How will I know you are ready to
devote yourselves to enhancing my seasonal and holiday dishes?
Hachiya: Oh, you will know because Iíll be
the most beautiful shades of deep orange and intense red- ah,
yes, reflective of the autumn leaves. My texture will grow perfectly
soft and tender. Iíll require sensitive handling and refrigeration
so that I remain intact and simply perfect for your autumn dishes.
You and I will accomplish great things- so long as we do so
within a few days, before I over-ripen.
Fuya: Well Iím no prima donna who needs pampering.
I am a hardy fruit; much more resilient and independent than
my dear, but mushy sibling. Iíll turn a lovely yellow-orange
just like the seasonís golden hues. I will remain firm and require
nothing more than a little counter space where Iíll get along
fine for weeks. I cause no fuss, not me.
Hachiya: Forgive me for saying so my beloved
sister, but it must be noted that, although you certainly appear
more, shall we say, dense, you are quite prone to internal bruising.
And as we know, your propensity for damage is only revealed
once you are put to use. Such a pity. So it is best to handle
you gently, too.
JSB: I, um, understand. Moving on then, please
tell me about any unique qualifications each of you would bring
to this assignment?
Hachiya: First, we are both most definitely
seasonal fruits. Our harvest months begin in October and we
hit our peak in November and December. Weíll stretch into January
in some climates.
Fuya: Thatís certainly true, but our unique
flavors are also worth bragging about. While my sister Hachiya,
when ripe, and only when ripe, is delicately flavored and frequently
compared to tree fruits such as peaches, apricots and mangos-
I am often compared to apples in texture and pears in flavor.
Both of us are noted for our subtle but distinctive spice notes-
so befitting the fall and winter seasons.
Hachiya: Not to mention our high vitamin A,
beta-carotene, and potassium content.
JSB: Seasonal, flavorful and nutritious, all
good qualities. Tell me what type of work have you been most
Hachiya: Hereís where we shine independently.
I am used after Iíve ripened. I am typically pureed and melded
into puddings, cookie batters, smoothies and other sweet things.
Fuya, on the other hand, is usually employed as a raw apple
might be- as a crunchy component in salads or in salsas or relishes
that finish a dish with distinctive fall flair.
JSB: What else should I know about you before
making a hiring decision?
Fuya: We both work well with our fall colleagues
such as nuts, dried fruits, maple syrup and spices like cinnamon
and nutmeg. With us on your team, you will surprise your guests
with an unheralded but sensational seasonal fruit flavor that
adds a rich accent to familiar autumn dishes.
JSB: What about references?
Hachiya: Here; Iíve brought a bundle of fall
recipes that attest to the breadth of our contributions to autumn
JSB: If selected for this role, when could
Fuya and Hachiya: If itís mid to late autumn, weíre ready now!
In the end, I found it surprisingly easy to extend an offer
to Fuya. . .and Hachiya. I suggested that Fuya come on board
to work on appetizers, salads and main course accompaniments;
and I offered Hachiya breakfast and dessert assignments. Both
I am pleased to report that together, Hachiya, Fuya and I are
introducing new seasonal dishes, both sweet and savory, to friends
and family. The distinctive flavors of the Persimmon sisters
have exceeded my expectations, and more importantly, brought
curious smiles to my guestsí faces.
If youíd like to shake up your fall menus, put a persimmon-
or two- to work in your kitchen!
Makes four Ĺ cup desserts
This super-quick dessert takes advantage of the best qualities
of both Hachiya and Fuya persimmons. Itís a perfect, light finish
to a hearty fall meal.
2 ripe Hachiya persimmons, peeled, seeded, chopped
ľ cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
ľ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup well chilled whipping cream
4 Tablespoons finely chopped toasted walnuts
2 Fuya persimmons, peeled and diced
Place chopped Hachiya persimmons, maple syrup, lemon juice,
cinnamon and vanilla in a blender. Puree until the mixture is
smooth. Add the whipping cream and process until the fruit and
cream mixture are fully incorporated and thick.
Spoon the mixture into four 4 ounce ramekins. Refrigerate 30
minutes to 2 hours.
Just before serving, top each dessert with equal portions of
the nuts and diced Fuya persimmons.
Written By: Jane Staley Boaz, a freelance
food and wine writer located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit her
website at www.jsboaz.com.