Autumn Sonata

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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.

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10 responses »

  1. Hey…this is really, seriously cool….hadn’t seen your blogger side 🙂 BTW, Caci or Japani Aa
    m is something my Mom told me about once-evidently it was something her dad used to bring them occasionally during their childhood (in Amritsar, India) and it was a special treat. Tired it once in the US and it was quite nice- though as you said, no comparison to mangoes!

  2. Interesting to think how it might have been growing in India and some point but just died out because of lack of marketing and logistical support…I know for example that mangosteens which are major cash crops in SE Asia grow in Kerala also, but I guess they have no support.

    • One sales boy in the supermarket told me that these persimmons grew in his village. It is possible that this might have originated in India and went to Japan since Japanese Shinto religion is nothing but imported Hinduism.

  3. Have actually tried Persimmoms here in Houston and loved them…not available throughout the year though and have never tried them chilled….will surely give it a shot!

  4. I think it’s an autumn thing, and because they are delicate, they probably do not travel well or store well. Just ensure they are really ripe (skin will be at bursting point and will have a deep red-orange color) otherwise they have an astringent taste. If you buy them a little short of 100% ripe, you can ripen them in a paper bag for a day or two (I’ve never done this with persimmons but it does work well with peaches and plums)

  5. Would love to taste it one day. I’m suddenly reminded of that lovely drink ‘sangria’ you served along with barbecued meats & veges on a pleasant evening in your back garden in Brussels!O my God, the taste still lingers in my mind!!
    Love from mapa.

  6. What a beautiful looking dessert Shruti and so beautiful presented in words too! Persimmon is one of my favourite fruits. The delicacy of flavour is incomparable. I discovered them when I lived in the US. Would like to share with you this lovely persimmon recipe I tried once:
    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ricotta-cheese-crepes-with-persimmon-apricot-marmalade-recipe/index.html
    I was thrilled to find persimmons in India about 4-5 years ago, but that was in Bangalore and I was only visiting. But happily, for the last 2-3 years they have been making an appearance in Bombay at some of the more exotic grocery stores like ‘Nature’s Basket’ and this year I found a cart-full of them on the roadside (as one would find ‘sitaphal’ in the right season.) As you can imagine, I made the vendor very happy that day by buying a several kilos. And guess what name they go by – ‘Ramphal’ 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing this info! This is so exciting – once fruits/veggies are on the `rehri’ it usually means they have gone mainstream. Ramphal? Interesting. And thanks for adding to my persimmon recipe database.

      • There is some royal family in some place in Japan that traces its lineage (claims) from Ayodhya and Ram. The Japanese emperors themselves claim descent from “Sun” God, same as the Suryavamsham. Many south east asian royals had at least cultural connections with south India. It is conceivable that there could be some connection between Ramphal and Japan. The name can be explained only if it originated in India

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