I’ll start by paying homage to my favourite season and all the interesting foods and colors it brings. What I absolutely love about Italy is how foods change by the season – not just what is available but also what restaurants serve up as their daily specials. It’s such a wonderful way of life – healthy, delicious, and a gentle reminder of our connection with the earth and the bounties it serves up.
Last year I `discovered’ a wonderful fruit called `caci’. Research led me to figure out it’s called Persimmon in English. We don’t have it back home in India except as a very expensive `exotic’ fruit that no one ever seems to eat because of it’s strange taste. It’s called Japani Aam (Japanese Mango) which leads to further alienation and a really unfair comparison with the King of Fruits, the Mango (Indian mangoes rock!)
In autumn caci is abundant, inexpensive and absolutely bursting with flavor! When it’s ripe it has the texture of a water ballon, ready to burst at the slightest pressure. Inside, it’s gelatinous, fibrous, and very sweet with an almost unctuous mouthfeel. It’s a great source of Vitamins A, B and C, and also antioxidants and dietary fibre.
Normally it’s served at the table quartered, and to be eaten with a knife and fork, but I recently discovered Crema di Caci (cream of caci) – a delicious dessert at a lovely eatery called Mangiari di Strada http://www.mangiaridistrada.com/ (thank you E and friends!). For a person like me who is not really keen on desserts it was manna from heaven – ridiculously simple to make and zero guilt to eat. What could be better?
So, here it is – my healthy, delicious, beautiful dessert….Autumn Sonata!
In 3 easy steps:
1. Halve the caci and scoop out the flesh into a small jug / pan, discarding the white fibrous bits just below the stem. The caci MUST be ripe, otherwise it has an astringent taste.
2. Whip up the flesh with a fork until it is all broken up and the mix is smooth. If there are some bits that are really fibrous and clumpy and it bothers you when serving as a dessert, discard them (or just eat them!).
3. Pour into goblets or glasses and chill for a few hours (tastes great even without chilling, I just prefer it cold). I sometimes add red berries/rasberries just before serving.
Enjoy the golden-orange hues of the season…by the spoonful.