The Persimmon

A couple weeks ago I purchased this persimmon. I hadn’t encountered one in awhile and I was excited by the find. But yesterday afternoon I had some troubling results that required a scientific experiment.  First, a little background…

When I  got out of college I moved to NY and thought I was gonna “make it happen.” (Sometime, ask me to tell this whole story which begins with failing the temp test twice and ends in a Poet Dynamo dashing dreams.) I could not find any full time work and while I applied I took a job at a sweet market in my neighborhood. This place was amazing— fresh, local produce, dried fruits and nuts from a roaster in upstate NY and our maple syrup was delivered by the hunky flannel shirted farmer himself. This store was a neighborhood fixture and as a result we had a cast of characters who came in to get their kale, nutritional yeast, and unbleached paper towels every week. It bonded the other employees together as a team and we named and discussed them (and what they purchased) as if they were our children. They were as follows:

Purple eye shadow lady

Actually, she was my favorite, and I think the one we were all endeared to the most. She wore frumpy/flamboyant outfits usually topped with a spectacular hat, the kind that has bows and sparkles. She was a vay-gan as she said over and over, pointing to cereals “is that vay-gan, cause I’m a vay-gan.” She wore a lot of purple eye shadow. Actually, we really should have left her alone.




Broccoli Man

He was one of those typical lived-in-NY-all-my-life-Woody-Allen-stole-my-thunder guys that fill Brooklyn and Upper East Side neighborhoods. He had apparently healed a treacherous skin condition by eating a very strict organic diet. And by avoiding germs. We weren’t allowed to touch his items on the counter. He brought his own jars in, which wouldn’t have been a problem but he would forget to have us do a tare (weigh the empty jars first) so that we could get an accurate gauge of what he purchased in bulk items. He couldn’t take them out and we couldn’t touch them. He yelled at us for the price of raw organic almonds. He once told me that my hair was going to fall out if I “kept wearing that hat” as if the skull cap I wore that January day was some sort of daily fashion choice on par with purple eye shadow lady. He was named for an incident that pre dated my time working there that involved a freak out/event involving broccoli.


That drawing above is very accurate. He was a raw foodist who had once tried to steal some limes. He came in a few times a day to get his greens and the vegetables for his meal. Then, one day, he stumbled on our persimmons.

These persimmons were good. We’d learned from a customer that we needed to recommend that no one eat them until they looked like they were about to rot, but once they were ripe like this they were delicious. One day Raw Thief came in and saw the persimmons. He purchased one and came back an hour later.  He was ecstatic. “I’m gonna get a few more. God! They taste like candy.” He proceeded to take the persimmons out one by one and place them on the counter. Eventually the owner just told him to take the whole basket. I’d never seen him so happy. He walked out holding the basket clutched to his chest.

The next day, when he returned the basket he was still going on about the fruit. “I ate them all last night. It really was like eating candy.”

So when I saw these at Whole Foods I was super excited and bought one even though I figured it wasn’t ready figuring I’d wait for it to ripen and when it did it would be this awesome treat.

Two weeks later it looked ripe enough and I was tired of waiting. I was feeling very magical and organic when I approached my persimmon. I couldn’t remember how I was supposed to eat it. I tried biting into it like an apple but quickly realized that was disgusting and cut into it instead. I sliced a little piece off and put it in my mouth. There was a brief moment of extreme deliciousness and then things went wrong very fast. My tongue went dry, numb and swelled. I’m not someone who has food allergies and when it comes to general allergies I have a pretty sturdy constitution. I needed to know whether I really had an allergic reaction or if this was just the fruit.

This was in the name of science and so I needed another participant.

I chose Ian because he seemed similarly sturdy and I was afraid that Kerri and Ron (based on some other allergy incidents that have occurred upstairs) might  not survive the experiment. I was forthright when I went into Ian’s apartment with the test subject.

“This probably sounds like a weird request but I want you to take a bite of this and I want to see if anything weird happens.” Ian looked at me blankly and I realized that wasn’t the best introduction so I tried again.

“See cause my mouth got kind of dry and swollen and that’s never happened to me before so I want to know whether I’m allergic to this or if there’s something wrong with the fruit.” He blinked.

“You want me to eat that and see if the fruit’s bad?”

“It’ll be like Mr. Wizard.”

I cut him off a tiny sliver and I had a few moments of panic. What if his allergic reaction is worse? What if I have to drive him to urgent care? Natalie would never forgive me. He took a bite. It looked like, for a second, everything was fine and then his face contorted and he ran to spit it out. He pointed to it

“Get rid of that. Put it down the garbage disposal.”

The experiment was a success in many ways as he confirmed all the same symptoms. Though I am not sure what this concludes about persimmons in general.

He said it was my one free “food tasting” so if I ever get a mysterious allergic reaction again I’ll have to recruit someone from downstairs or a willing citizen who doesn’t mind participating in the name of science.



Filed under Artists-in-Residence, Corinne Manning (10-11)

6 responses to “The Persimmon

  1. Alix

    I’ve recently started serving persimmons to Bocci. When I slice them open he comes running into the kitchen with a healthy mouth of drool already forming. If you need to get rid of any rotten fruits – let me know. That might break his addiction… I like the raw thief’s track suit – maybe you should apply for a visual AiR spot next year?

  2. Kerry

    Another friend of mine just posted on her blog about persimmon butter, which I imagine you do NOT want to try. Bocci might like it though, it seems.

  3. Betsy

    I love the way Google dropped an ad for persimmon trees below this post. Good luck with that.

  4. cw

    I just had a persimmon this evening and had the same horrible reaction with my tongue. It didn’t happen to me when I consumed the flat-shaped persimmon (I ate that frequently this season), but tonight it was the elongated shaped variety that brought on this reaction.

    Can’t really quite pinpoint what it can be compared to (I’ve never had food allergies), but the second after the persimmon touched my tongue, it felt like my tongue had “licked a cotton puff”? Did this reaction happen to you? Anyway, it’s been 2 hours and my tongue only has that slight taste left…but it really really left me in shock.

  5. Steff

    The reason I came across your post was because i was Googling “persimmon allergic reaction”. I’ve eaten them before and LOVE them – they are like candy. But the last 3 that I’ve eaten – on separate days with a few days between eating each one – I’ve had such a severe stomach ache, even resulting in vomiting. I would hate to think that I’ve become intolerant towards them because they are so divine…. but that is what is seems like.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s