food of the month: persimmons

February 21, 2008 at 5:52 pm | Posted in Black Folks, Culture, flavor of the month, nutrition | 3 Comments

“you are the huckleberry beyond my persimmon…”
early african american courtship ritual saying

i gave love to this “fruit of the people” a couple years back in a b’earth day post. and even though its season well on its way out, persimmons get a big up for feb 2008 in honor of black history month, the persistence of black love, and just straight up healthy living. overshadowed by the more commercialized cousins of the fruit group, persimmons have grown to have a special place in both the historical & culinary lore of black folks. during the time of chattel slavery in the u.s., marriage for love between african descendants was not only counter to the “breeding” objectives plantation owners, but it was also illegal. african folks developed creative ways to ritualize their love – like ‘jumping the broom’. however, lesser known is the saying in the above epigraph shared between two lovers back in the day. “the persimmon with its [sweetness] was symbolic of how a lover felt about the other”. persimmons found their way into american texts from tales of breer rabbit –the seminal trickster to richard wright- one of america’s most prolific writers. in black boy, richard wright remarked on enjoying this delectable fruit while listing his most memorable childhood experiences,

“in jackson, mississippi, horses, vegetable gardens, sparrows wallowing in a dusty road, ants, crawfish, clouds, catching fireflies, rolling in the grass, fishing, eating persimmons, and gathering nuts and berries” p.45

persimmons also figure prominently in african american culinary traditions, including persimmon pudding, candy and even persimmon beer! what! here goes some recipes. and for more historic info check michael twitty‘s fighting old nep: the foodways of enslaved afro-marylanders, 1634-1864(more to come check back with me)



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  1. persimmon pudding?? that sounds too yummy; i’m gonna look into a recipe for that…maybe with tapioca. i’m salivating just thinking about it…

  2. Man, This is a nice post. I knew people that at persimmons but I never have. I am going to look further at this fruit. I am a fruit lover anyway

  3. ‘preme, thanks for stopping by. i fronted on persimmons for years…one of those fruits that you see once in a while on the stand. when i finally had one, i also had to pay my respects with a post. let me know if you mess around and make a dish out of it, like nitevision seems to be contemplating.


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