Even in the smoggy grid of Los Angeles, autumn presents itself in a hundred different ways (I’ve read that LA has more varieties of trees than any other city in the country): leaves turn color and drop, though not with the abundance that leads to impressive, jumpable piles and the occasional bonfire. The lemons and limes start coming in and the persimmons on our backyard tree start ripening. Drought tolerant plants bloom in the moderate, spring-like warmth of a Southern California fall. The latter are growing in our front yard and, in a Michael Pollan moment, I thought the kids could benefit by getting hands on with the foliage and putting together a centerpiece for the table, learning about sustainable, local, the changing of the seasons, and all that. Little did I know that in a few minutes we’d be having a Pollen moment. We went outside with kitchen shears and clipped a bunch of blooming sage, rosemary, and other drought tolerants and put them in a vase inside.
And then I started sneezing. Then the kids started sneezing.
Seems that the kids have inherited, along with my vast appetite and high energy, my allergies. We hacked and coughed and sneezed and wheezed for about three minutes before I tossed the whole thing.
My wife had a better idea: pluck some semi-ripe persimmons off the backyard tree and line them up on a baguette tray. It was local. Organic. Minimalist. Pollen-free. And best of all, we can always eat them sliced like apples as a snack (and when they’re fully ripe we can bake them in a persimmon cake or make persimmon jam).
Other things to do with persimmons:
-slice firm ones thinly and put them on a cheese plate
-slice and serve with prosciutto
-dry them in a low oven and use as a garnish for ice cream
-substitute for apples in chutney
-freeze super-ripe persimmons and mash for an instant rustic sorbet, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream