The other day I was at a farmers market when I saw them sitting there. A pile of beautifully squishy orange fruit.
My first memory of a persimmon was in the movie, Little Women. I was about nine years old when I saw it in the theatre. You know the one, where Susan Sarandon plays Marme.
I’ve been obsessed ever since. I’ve read the book over and over. Each time I imagine that my sisters and I are just like Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. I’m Jo, of course. For a long time, I called my mother Marme. I know everything about Louisa May Alcott. I’ve read countless biographies. I could talk for hours about her childhood… how she weaved fact into fiction in her books and figured out how to pay the bills that her philosopher father couldn’t. I’ve actually been so obsessed with the characters that my nephews call me Aunt Jo (thanks, #eldestsestra, for making my childhood dreams come to life!).
Anyway, there I was, my 30 year-old-self, staring at the persimmons as if they were calling to me. I was transfixed with the image of eating and cooking with the persimmons just like the March sisters did (or at least Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon did). So after a long discussion with the kind farmer about which kind of persimmon was best for baking with (hatchya is the way to go!) I went home with a bag full of fruit and dreams of peaceful baking.
Like they did in early 20th Century New England, I YouTubed how to strain the pulp from persimmons. I Googled the best persimmon bread recipes. Juuuust as I cut into the first persimmon and had the fantastic goop on my hands, my almost two-year-old son began to hang on my legs and scream. He was ready for his nap. The problem was his Bun-Buns was in the washer because he had dunked him in a mud puddle earlier that morning. And he won’t go to sleep without Bun-Buns.
I spent the next 10 mins trying to achieve my persimmon pulping fantasies while my son screamed at my ankles and I stupidly tried to “extinguish” the behavior by ignoring him. Then I pleaded with him to watch a TV show while we wait for Bun-Buns. After a while I caved, and we cuddled until Bun Buns was nice and toasty from the dryer and the little guy drifted off to sleep.
I returned to a quiet kitchen and my persimmons and realized my holiday-bake-like-Little-Women fantasies were a bit unrealistic and causing me unnecessary disappointment in what was otherwise a predictable day with a toddler.
I have a tendency to do that to myself.
In fact, it took until a few months ago for me to realize I’m actually nothing like Jo. I mean, she’s introverted and tomboyish and hates fancy parties. I’m a girly girl and I live for fancy dresses and parties. I’m so extroverted that the thought of a day to myself makes me want to scream in anguish.
After grieving the loss of my childhood fantasy, it turns out to be a relief that I’m not a character in a novel. My life doesn’t have to be perfect. I can quit trying. And, in all its imperfection, it’s still beautiful.
The good news is, my son slept just long enough for me to get my persimmon bread into the oven and for that, I’m grateful. Some dreams do come true!
Here’s the recipe if you, too, wear rose-colored glasses and pretend life is dreamier than it really is. Or, if you just so happen to like persimmons.
P.S. I omitted the walnuts. They aren't my thing.