A plastic bag full of persimmons appeared at our doorstep while we were out one October morning. An attached note explained that the bag contained fresh persimmons and that the fruit was sweetest when the skin was slightly wrinkled. Those wrinkles should have been my first warning. Never having eaten a persimmon before, I was intrigued by the small round fruits. How did one prepare them?
I remembered how a newlywed once called my mother for cooking advice. The woman was having trouble preparing an old family recipe for stewed chicken. “Mrs. Parke, the recipe says to put the chicken in a kettle, cover with water and simmer for two hours.” The directions seemed simple enough. My mother asked what the difficulty was. “I can’t get the chicken into the kettle. It won’t go past the spout.” Suddenly we realized that the young woman was trying to squeeze the chicken into a teakettle! Now it was my turn to seek advice. Because my mother was no longer alive, I called an older experienced cook, Ruth, to see if she could suggest a recipe that would use the fruit. In her eighties, she had a lifetime of wisdom.” Oh, my husband Bob loved persimmon pie! He always ordered it whenever we went out!” Ruth continued, “I’m sure I had a recipe for it once. I’ll look for it and get back to you.” The next day Ruth called to say she couldn’t find the recipe. That should have been my second red flag. Instead, I pushed ahead.
I typed “persimmon pie recipe” into the search field of the browser on my computer, and sure enough, the browser promptly provided a link to a recipe. I printed it out and headed to my kitchen. The recipe called for two cups of persimmon pulp. There were no directions on how to transform the whole fruit into said pulp, but I washed the fruit, removing the stems and a sharp little thorny stub at the base of each fruit. Did I need to remove the skins? The recipe didn’t say. (Was that yet another red flag waving on the horizon?) I reasoned, when the whole fruit was only the size of a walnut, what pulp would remain if I tried to remove the skin? I decided to leave it on. As I began to mash the fruit into pulp, however, I discovered that each little persimmon contained several large seeds. Some had as many as five seeds, and by the time I carefully removed these obstacles, what remained in my mixing bowl was something less than the required 2 cups of pulp. Persevering, I added the remaining list of ingredients – sugar, cornstarch, milk, and an egg. The result was a mixture that looked like custard with peach-colored flotsam floating on top. The mix might not be attractive, but it smelled palatable. I poured the whole business into a fresh unbaked pie crust and tucked it in the oven. An hour later, the sweet fragrance of persimmons flowed out from my kitchen to the living room where my husband was reading. We both were anxious to taste the results of my labor.
After allowing the pie to cool, I carefully sliced a piece for each of us and carried it to the table. How can I describe the flavor of this exotic dessert? Honestly? The crust was tender, flaky, and delicious. The filling? It was sweet and chewy. Especially chewy. Chewy, like caramel-flavored bathing caps. I called my friend Ruth once again and invited her to come try a piece of my pie. “Tell me, Ruth,” I asked as we sat at the table, “what was it that your husband liked about persimmon pie?” My friend smiled. “Oh, Bob never actually got the pie when he ordered it. No restaurant ever served it. He just ordered it to tease the waitress.” I should have guessed. Bob was notorious for playing jokes. When Ruth had told me the day before that she once had a recipe for persimmon pie but could no longer find it, I should have been suspicious. And now, after tasting my pie, I understood why. Proverbs 12:11 “A hard-working farmer has plenty to eat, but it is stupid to waste time on useless projects.” (NLT)