Kaki Time

No that’s not a misspelled fashion statement. Its Plantae Ericales Ebenaceae Diospyros time of year here in Italy. Its guaranteed that in late October-early November a wander past any fruit stand or market display will reveal white Styrofoam trays holding three ripe orange/brown/golden yellow squishy balls of delicious goodness. Or there will be bins of yellow hard fruit ready to take home and ripen on the window sill. And they will appear as a frutta along with the ubiquitous ananas (pineapple) on restauarnt menus.

In North America we call them persimmons, in other places they are Shizi, Date Plums, Black Sapote or Mabolo depending on the variety and location. The variety grown in Italy – 5th in worldwide persimmon production – is the Japanese persimmon or Kaki.

Persimmon is not a fruit that I ate much back in Canada – maybe in a pudding once or twice at Thanksgiving but that it would be about it. As I recall North American persimmons were small and even when ripe had a slight astringency that could be almost unpleasant. Not so the Kaki – Kakis??? what is the plural? – appearing in the markets here. They are large, plump and soft to the point of appearing to the unaccustomed eye as being overripe. When split open they reveal a sweet, custardy centre with two seeds encased in gelatin. And the taste – well for me it brings to mind the Ancient Greek appellation: Fruit of the Gods.

As well as having all sorts of medicinal and nutritional value it appears the seeds can be used as a weather oracle. According to Wikipedia:

It is said that one can predict the winter by taking the seeds out of some persimmons and then slicing the seeds. The shape that shows up the most inside each seed will indicate what kind of winter to expect.

The three shapes resemble three eating utensils:
A Knife – there will be a cold icy winter (as in the wind will slice through you like a knife).
A Spoon – there will be plenty of snow for to shovel.
A Fork – there will be a mild winter.

I’ll have to try that tonight and let you know what my kaki predicts – though I would be surprised if many spoons showed up here in Italy.

28 ottobre – I Santi Simone il Cananeo e Guido