Friday, March 27, 2009

Italy, October


Jesse Lee Kercheval


To be here is to be where fruit you have never seen before grows on equally strange trees. The fruit is not, as you first thought, oranges, though it is orange in color. Nor is it a tangerine or some strangely colored apple. Then you see it in the market, each soft fruit cradled in its own nest of woven plastic. Cachi, the sign reads, 200 lire. You hold out a palm of silver, and let the cashier pick warm coins from your waiting hand. Then she wraps your cachi in white paper like a present, which you carry to your hotel, hoping cachi can be safely eaten raw.

In your room, you slice it open, lift the cachi to your lips and find it sweeter than any fruit you've ever tasted, half watermelon, half pressed roses. Only when you've finished, do you think to look up cachi in your pocket Italian dictionary which says it means persimmon. And you remember as a child picking a persimmon at a friend's house, then leaving it all afternoon in your mother's stand-up freezer. Still, when you bit the unripe fruit, your mouth drew up in a pucker from which you—silent person that you are—never did recover. Until today in Sacile when you took a bite of strange fruit.


Now, who knows? You may speak in tongues.

13 comments:

  1. Persimmon! I tried that as a child but had forgotten. Now I'll make a point of looking for the fruit this summer; can't pass up something half watermelon, half pressed roses. (The Cachi tree is a beauty, like this post.)

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  2. I love kachi! They unfortunately no longer sell for a mere 200 lire... But if you're lucky enough to have friends who have a persimmon orchard, well then it's kachi-partay. They are a winter fruit, so we're eating the last few dropping heavily from the branches. Ciao

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  3. I have never eaten a persimmon, but now I can taste it with words. Delicious.

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  4. What a lovely description of the persimmon fruit! I first encountered kachi in Bahrain, where everything is flown in because they can only grow sand in the desert. It was wonderful and I became a hunter of persimmon at the local grocery when I repatriated. Great read.

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  5. My grandparents had a persimmon tree on their farm in NC - I LOVED persimmon pudding! My aunt still makes it sometimes - yum!

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  6. I have never had one! I will have to now!

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  7. My Italian cousins did not grow persimmons, but they did grow the sweetest tomatoes I have ever eaten. And they also had those beautiful long black beans that turn green when you cook them. It was an amazing garden.

    And then of course there was the grappa.

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  8. 'half watermelon, half pressed roses'

    That description made me stop and think and dream.

    Nothing but lovely.

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  9. Mmmm, This fruit sounds wonderful.....

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  10. Now I know why the Almighty God creates fruit trees all over the world --- that we may travel.

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  11. Persimmons are wonderful. My horses love them too.

    The best/worse joke my husband played on his neice when she had never seen a persimmon. They were green but he told her they were good. She bit, she yelled, she spat...and he said, oh, they are not bitter if you peel them. She peeled one and popped it in her mouth. I must say she was rather bitter in more ways than one.

    Also persimmon fights can be loads of fun.

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  12. What a beautiful post! I really appreciate a meditation on fruit and life at this time of year!

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  13. Remembering the fall I gave birth to my first child, and passed huge portions of the day glued to the nursery rocker, gazing out the second story window on the persimmon tree and its rich,ripening fruit.

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Hey, thanks for your thoughts and your time:>)