“Eating a persimmon and thinking of you!” I happily texted one of my oldest friends.
“Unnnhhhhh sucks to be you,” was her immediate response.
“Wha..? I love thinking of you!”
“Not that. Sucks you’re eating a persimmon. Those things are slimy nasty slime.”
“Confused. I thought you told me you love persimmons.”
“FALSE. I told you once in college that the house I grew up in had a persimmon tree in the yard. You assumed.”
“You don’t like persimmons?” Mind blown.
“Hated them then. Won’t eat them now. Stop linking me to the most vile fruit ever.”
“Harsh, much?” I was just trying to be nice after all!
“I tell you every year I hate them yet every Christmas you send me this same text.”
“It’s okay. Just stop trying to make me into a persimmon licker already.”
“Buwhaha! Who wouldn’t want to be a persimmon licker??”
“Too late. I went there.”
“Of course you did.”
“I’m still thinking of you. But now in an entirely different light. 50 Shades of Fruit?”
“Don’t feel bad, you can’t help it – you just grew up that way.”
Sometimes you find the D*mnYouAutocorrect and sometimes it finds you. Good times.
Seriously though, who hates persimmons? Sure they can be a little too smushy on the inside and weirdly crispy on the outside if you don’t time them just right. But they’re so bright and festive! And they’re known to be powerful brain protectors! (Although in my case, clearly not powerful enough…) Besides, they’re not the vilest fruit of the holiday season. According to this impassioned essay by Katy Waldman for Slate, that top honor goes to the grapefruit. As she puts it, “Grapefruit is unwieldy, disgusting, and in some cases dangerous to eat. It is indisputably the worst fruit anyone has ever put on a plate.”
While I have to disagree with her on premise – I adore the tart fruit and eat about one a day (I just peel it and eat it like an orange, no fancy spoon required!) – I do get where she’s coming from when it comes to gifting the yellow globes. I’ve seen a $200 Harry & David deluxe fruit array in person and all I could think was how I could find fresher produce at the grocery store and then wonder where on earth they were growing these grapefruits to warrant such a steep price tag – King Midas’ citrus grove? That is some expensive fiber-packed poop. And let’s be honest, I don’t know many people that consider any kind of fruit that isn’t chocolate-dipped or shaped into a funny floral arrangement to be gift-worthy.
Except maybe me. You could shove a box of clementines in my stocking and I’d be just as thrilled as if it were jewelry. (Dear husband: Not really.) In addition to loving the maligned persimmon and grapefruit, I also happen to adore fruitcake. I don’t get all the furor surrounding it – it’s basically cake stuffed with artificially colored candy, and who doesn’t love that? It’s like Funfetti for grown-ups. It’s not health food but it’s certainly tastier than, say, those tasteless tins of shortbread cookies everyone passes around. (I have never met a crunchy cookie I liked. Stupid sugar cookies look delish all dolled up and then taste like chalk when you bite into them.) And don’t even get me started on the delight that are fresh figs! (Figgy pudding, however, is not quite as good as the song or the Newton would have you believe.)
The one winter fruit I do really question though is the pomelo. First, what is that thing? I bought a whole bag at Costco recently (first mistake: buying 10 pounds of a fruit you’ve never tasted) and was expecting something like a giant green grapefruit but instead got a giant green football filled with sour pith and a few slivers of something vaguely citrus-y but with no flavor. Then I wondered if maybe it’s not meant to be eaten like a fruit. After all, according to the great Wiki almanac, pomelos take eight years to mature (growing 8 inches of spongy pith is hard work, people!) so clearly they’re in the remedial class for food, right next to the nettles. So maybe you have to pickle it? Or coat it in sugar, dip it in chocolate and fashion it into orchids on skewers?
But maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Summer fruits, with their succulent strawberries and perfect peaches, get all the attention. Winter fruits, on the other hand, generally lead most people to ask “Wait, you can grow fruit in winter?” I should probably give the pumelo points for just existing.
What about you – pomegranates, persimmons, pumelos, papayas, figs, oranges, grapefruits – do any of these make your holiday wish list or traditions? Are you one of those people who gifts fruit? (Or sticks an orange in the toe of every stocking?) Anyone else have a friend or relative who insistently mis-remembers your food likes/dislikes every year??