1.03.2011

THE PERFECT TRADE


A wonderful New York City moment: the super comes into the apartment I am renting to fix a light, and notices my lemon tree, which is hard to miss, it is now so large. I rescued it years ago from the trash after a photo shoot; it was a stunted, misshapen creature, exactly the kind of thing I bring home. It has flourished, and this year I have a bumper crop of thin-skinned, sweetly tart Meyer lemons.


The super says, I have a persimmon tree over in Queens; I had a great year too. I confess that I am stunned to hear this is possible, and what's more, I have never tasted a persimmon. I thought they were tropical. The beauty of microclimates. The next day he returns with a bag full of fleshy fruit, admonitions to let them ripen, then eat from the top with a spoon. Unearthly, succulent, sharp, nectar. And the color of both fruits, in the middle of cold, drab days. (Plate, of course, by the inimitable Frances Palmer.) What a great trade among near-strangers, garden to garden, heart to heart. Do farmers at market feel this all the time? A wonder.

19 comments:

david terry said...

Hey, Ms. Browning.....

Persimmons aren't, as a general rule "tropical". two varieties (insofar as I know) are native to Southeastern America (at least to the Southern part of it; I don't, for all sorts of obvious reasons, know about yankee-land).

They're also all over Provence, although I think the ones they have there are, like camellias and gardenias, imports of some oriental variety, from that early 19th century period when collectors were importing all sorts of originally-asian plants.

Where I'm from (the mountains of East Tennessee), you don't eat persimmons until they've been hit by at least one hard frost. Folks claim they are good with possum. "Astringency meets (and learns to LIKE) Grease" is a traditional culinary default-position back home.

I suppose anything "goes good with" possum, and that practically anything is an improvement.

Advisedly yours as ever,

David Terry

david terry said...

P.S.....just to clarify one remark of mine?.....

"Yankee Land" would include what my unreconstructed father refers to (since at least the mid-sixties) as "The Occupied Counties of Northern Virginia".

My good guess is that the sort of folks who've taken-over thereabouts do, actually, have persimmons...but they don't know what-in-the-hell to do with them.

Advisedly yours as ever,

David Terry
www.davidterryart.com

mytwocentsworth said...

As I recall, I believe there are references to 'possum and persimmons in Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus Stories (made famous in the old movie "Song of the South"). Can't put my hands on my vintage copy of the book at the moment, but something tells me it could have been that persimmons were a fruit rated high on the possum menu.

quintessence said...

Amazing! I was impressed when I read you had actually grown lemons - but persimmons??!! Totally envious!

mary said...

That is a great trade. I didn't know that it was possible to raise lemons indoors. That is a gorgeous tree--it must be very happy. Have a great 1st week of the New Year.

lostpastremembered said...

We've been making persimmon puddings in the US for a 100 years or more and they are spectacular ( especially with a sour lemon sauce!).

I am jealous of that lemon tree. WIth no garden in my current digs a lemon tree would be perfect and would perfume the room. Thanks for the lovely story of generous trading.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I've never had a persimmon itself -but have had persimmon flavored candy. I'm so envious of your lemons -i can think of so many great things to do with them! Sadly they require a lot of direct sunlight and I've never been able to get any to grow.

Judith Ross said...

Welcome to Twitter! I am now following you and soon you will have hundreds of devoted followers.

As for those meyer lemons, I was lucky enough to get my hands on some over the holidays. They made a wonderful lemon pudding cake from my Rosie's cookbook

Judith
www.talkingwriting.com

Tricia O'Brien said...

Dominique,
Excellent! I too was a late comer to Persimmons, but I love thinly slicing up the firmer ones, and putting them in a salad with fennel, dried currants and candied pecans. They're a beautiful fruit and the tree, without leaves and those beautiful orange fruits hanging on the branches is a sight to be seen. Very much like Pomegranates.
CAFETRIX

Patricia Grace said...

Love your column! Regarding persimmons: seems we have a bumper crop somewhere nearabouts San Diego, CA. I've been enjoying them for the past 2 months and eat them when they are firm, not soft, sliced and scoop out fleshy part or just eat from the skin. Enjoy!

Christina said...

My grandmother was a huge fan of persimmons, and I remember trying them as a young girl, at her gentle coaxing. I had the worst case of "cat tongue" and could never let one pass my lips again! (This must be the astringency of which Mr. Terry speaks.)

Wishing you many Meyer lemons in the new year!

Christina

Tokyo Jinja said...

Persimmons are such a symbol of late autumn here in Japan - growing on leafless trees as the weather gets cold. They are incorporated into seasonal dishes (try prosciutto wrapped around a slice instead of melon). Woodblock print artists such as Ryohei Tanaka depict them in simple engravings and etchings too...

Ginger G said...

... had a Meyer Lemon tree - aka "Meyer" for three years but the third year indoors for winter did "Meyer" in.

Would like to get a new one to go with a small olive tree - aka "Oliver" - I bought myself for my birthday and a small bay that seems to be thriving.

Live near Seattle and on second floor condo with a small balcony. What do you do for your Meyer Lemon in the winter?

Scored with finding Meyer lemons at local market here on Bainbridge Island and having fun using them in recipes.

Streams Full of Stars said...

LOVE the colour! Wonderful photographs!

karensandburg said...

ok, i'm totally inspired to get a meyer lemon tree and offer it a prime spot in front of a large window in my living room. Ginger G asked about what you do with it in the winter ... i'm curious as well.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have a large and deliciously fruitful potted Meyer lemon tree--visitors always touch the fruit in disbelief. For years, the little tree did well out on the deck during the summer, then wasted away for lack of sun all winter. Then I discovered that a single fluorescent spotlight in a photographer's wide reflecting shade, clipped to the curtain rod above my tree, and kept on for at least 12 hours/day, turned my wan little lemon into a gorgeous green shrub full of fragrant blooms and juicy lemons. I use only compost (mostly oak leaves--nice and acidic) to feed it, and give it twice-daily mistings. Not a lot to ask for so much beauty. Good luck to all who plan to grow their own!

carolegarden said...

My English grandmother grew up in Greece. We carry on her tradition at Christmas making persimmon instead of plum pudding. Moist and warm with hot lemon sauce. Just let them ripen til very very soft. Can also freeze once ripe. How they look on the tree bright orange on leafless branches is startlingly beautiful.

online degree said...

Love your blog. You give both image is wonderful. In both images colour have bright and eye catching. Lemon is very useful in our routine life.

Jessie said...

Reading this long ago I knew that I needed/wanted a citrus plant in my winter kitchen. Last summer I bought a potted tree that graced my front steps all summer long. Now it is safely in my kitchen window, profuse with fragrant blooms. What a heady scent to greet me as I make my morning cup of tea.