Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fruit by Post

After all these years of walking past fancy gift fruit shops, today I became the recipient of a box of gift fruit myself! A friend had warned me to expect a present in the mail, but she didn't give me any clue as to what it might be. I was surprised by the size and weight of the box the delivery man handed me, but when I had signed for it and taken it inside, I noticed the "kudamono" label. Fruit! I immediately reached for my camera.
Beneath the pretty gift wrap, in a bright green heavy cardboard box and swaddled in layers of bubble wrap, protective foam, and color-coordinated gauze, were three persimmons! Here in Japan, persimmons are probably the quintessential fall fruit, even more so than pears and apples. Their season is so short, and their bright orange skin and flesh so reminiscent of autumn leaves, that they're ideal for summoning Proustian images of crisp mornings, early sunsets, and chilly evenings. The longer, heart-shaped, bitter type of persimmon is hung in strings to dry for months, but these squat, pumpkin-shaped Fuyugaki are sweet and perfect for eating fresh. Some people peel them and cut them into dainty bite-sized pieces, served with a toothpick or, more elegantly, with a tiny dessert fork. I like to eat them out of hand, nibbling through the tough skin and taking care to keep the soft inside from bursting into juiciness on my chin.
My gift box came with a lengthy description of the history, geography, distinctive points, and taste of the Fuyugaki variety of persimmon. I'm not sure if all this is necessary to enjoy the fruit, but it does add to the impression of their being something of great value. I would be interested in seeing the descriptive note that comes with that square watermelon...

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