A FRUITFUL ESCAPADE‏

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A new year is a new beginning in many ways. Though we go through the same usual grind of everyday life year after year, yet it is the hope for a happier, healthier life ahead that keeps humanity refreshed.

With month long festivities of Christmas and New Year and then all the accolades of chocolate on Valentine's day, the euphoria created by all that sinful food we are kind of tired of it all. The mirrors have begun to crack up with the calorific reflections  we packed on us. It is about time we come back to good health with a vengeance and take serious resolutions to shed them all before summer is here. Healthy food, diet and exercise has to be our new mantra.

The merry Christmas and Happy New Year signs are quickly replaced by Happy Valentine's Day signs that lures You to some more chocolatey sins, as if all those cookies and Christmas Cakes have not made you a sinner enough. But then you come across some reality checks soon enough with signs that make you laugh out loud as you read ‘God if you cannot make me skinny this year please make my friends fat’.Suddenly the sugar rush among the people seem to be giving way to a sugar crash. Now Everybody wants to be on a diet, giving up on their daily dose of temptations. They want to get rid of all those extra pounds they gathered pounding on those pounds of cakes. All are so ready for summer and for that much sought after trim and slim, thin and lean look. It's funny how people are so diligently and carefully reading every label before they open their bag of chips. The fruits, salads and soups are now replacing the sinful cookies, cakes and baked goodies. The much omitted quinoa and bulgur wheat are finding their way to the tables.

On such an overtly conscious healthy lunch break I noticed my friend slice a red tomato like fruit.” Strange way to eat a tomato” so I thought. I watched the contentment on her face as she ate. Somehow the expression did not match to that of one after eating a tomato.

Impatient by nature, I killed my curiosity quick and asked her what it was she was eating. Everybody at the table was taken aback when they heard it was a Persimmon. Apparently very few people know about this fruit. Mistaking this fruit for a tomato is common. It is aptly called “the fruit of the Gods” and it is “nature’s candy to humanity”. The color and skin texture of this fruit is the same as that of a tomato. A marked difference is visible when it is cut. I eagerly tasted the slice of persimmon handed out to me by my friend swearing it was one of the most delicious fruit I ever tasted. It is dense and mushy and extremely sweet to taste. It could easily be related to the taste of a “chikoo” fruit in India and the texture and density to that of a mango.

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The history of origin of this fruit is traced to be Oriental. The Japanese and even the Chinese are familiar with this fruit. The Persimmon seems to have a strong root in the Mediterranean region especially in Spain and Portugal. The mild weather in the Mediterranean region helps the fruit blossom its best. It has a short and delicate life. It is available from early November till the middle of December. It is often called an autumn fruit. It is difficult to preserve this fruit and this may be one of the reasons why it is still not so well known. Persimmon Pudding though is popular in some parts of California, likely to have been introduced by the Asian immigrants. For the rest of America and the world it is still a lesser known and unexplored fruit. It is a highly nutritious fruit which is so overlooked. It provides glucose, protein, vitamin A and C, calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper and manganese. It contains papain and bromelain like in papayas and pineapples. They are natural digestive enzymes. Persimmons are also known to contain astringent that tightens tissue and counteracts the burns tendency to ooze. It has an antiseptic value. It is a tricky fruit. One has to be really careful while choosing a Persimmon. A persimmon if consumed unripe will have a chalky and pucker taste in the mouth. They are high in pectin and easily thicken in pudding.

Country folks often made vinegar with the fruit and toasted the seeds to make coffee substitutes. In many places they brew beer with the dried seeds. They can be used in fruit salads, pastries, jam, ice cream, pancake, cookies, smoothies, bread and cakes. It is also in many ways like a plum. It is truly divine if consumed at the right time with a very sweet and creamy taste. It has a flavor that is a combination of dates, plums, apricots and cherimoyas all packed into one. This underappreciated native treasure is to be hunted in the local famer’s markets. If you chance to come across one you’ll be able to delight in this timeless, sublime and heavenly treat.