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This is the story of why my family has Persimmon Pudding and never Pumpkin Pie on Thanksgiving. It's more than that, of course, because all good stories are more than a just one thing.

This story encompasses elephant jokes told in Chinese and cats who walk on tables. It is a meditation on what is funny and what other cultures think is funny.

And it's a little snap shot of the life of my family some 30-plus years ago.

First, let it be known that I am not Chinese. My family has German ancestors -- some of them Jewish. My father's grandfather emigrated to the United States in the late 19th Century and ended up in southern Indiana, in the town of Columbus. This is significant mostly because it explains why there are persimmons in this story.

Persimmon pudding is a Hoosier thing. I experienced it first as a child while visiting my paternal grandparents. The persimmons that grow in southern Indiana come ripe after the first frost, when they fall off the trees and lie squishy on the ground. Before that, they are so astringent as to be inedible. That's why they're available around Thanksgiving and Persimmon Pudding is Hoosier Thanksgiving fare.

But just hold that thought. The persimmons won't be back in this story for a while.

The year is 1978. I was living at home with my parents in the Detroit suburbs, getting back on my feet and finishing my degree in communications at Wayne State University after a divorce.

For little other reason than I'm an ornery sort of person, I decided to take Mandarin Chinese to fulfill my foreign language requirement. I had a lot of fun with it.

While I was taking first-year Mandarin Chinese, the university made a deal to welcome the first ever exchange students from the People's Republic of China. These students all spoke some English, but they had learned it with almost no exposure to native speakers, so their accents were impenetrable and they had trouble understanding the spoken word. To help them adjust, our instructor arranged for American students studying Chinese to meet with the Chinese exchange students for practice.

The exchange students outnumbered us, so the groups tended to be three or four Chinese paired with one American. In pretty short order, most of the American students got bored with the arrangement, and most of the groups dissolved.

Except my group, that is. A good number of the students from the other groups ended up coming to my group and before long, I was leading a fairly large study group.

I was determined to make this as valuable as possible, so I was continually wracking my brain for discussion topics for the group that were simple enough that I could follow with my first-year Chinese, but interesting enough to hold people's attention.

One exercise I thought up was to have everyone tell a joke in their non-native language.

I worked hard on coming up with a joke that would still be funny when I told it in Chinese. I couldn't do anything that relied on a pun, so that ruled out any of the shaggy dog stories I was fond of telling. It also had to avoid cultural humor, because my Chinese friends would probably not understand.

After much deliberation I came up with "elephant jokes." Elephant jokes have pretty much faded off the scene, but when I was in high school, they were the big thing. Elephant jokes relied on whimsy for their humor, so I figured they would be translatable. In case you've never heard an elephant joke, here's an example:

Why don't elephants ride tricycles?
They don't have a thumb to ring the bell.

Yeah, when I was in high school, we thought that was a real knee slapper. I only barely remember why.

The joke I picked out to tell my group was selected because it fit within the grammatical structure I could handle during my first semester of Chinese. The joke was:

What do elephants like to do between 3 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon?
They like to jump out of trees in the forest.

Why are crocodiles built so low to the ground?
They like to stroll through the forest between 3 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon.

I worked hard on the translation and practiced it in front of an imaginary class several times before the session where I got up and told it.

I finished the second couplet and there was dead silence in the room. The exchange students just looked flummoxed. Had I mispronounced a word? Did I get an intonation wrong (which would change the meaning in Chinese)?

Finally, one of the students got up his courage to ask, "Can elephants climb trees?"

To be completely fair, I didn't understand their jokes either.

After some experimentation on my part in coming weeks, I did find a genre of joke that the Chinese students thought was hilarious. Or maybe they just laughed to put an end to my desperate search for international humor.

They were tickled by Polish jokes. Mind you, I didn't tell them as Polish jokes. I told them as "foolish person" jokes. It turns out that the Chinese have their own "Polish jokes," though they tell them as "The stupid farmer from [whatever province the teller is not from] jokes."

But back to Thanksgiving. It was coming and my parents asked me to invite however many of my Chinese student friends as would like to come to join us for the holiday. They were far from home in a foreign land, and my parents figured there could be nobody more appropriate to invite.

As it happened, only one accepted. Many of the others had other invitations. They were much in demand as Thanksgiving guests.

The student who accepted, we'll call him Jang, was a man in his 40s working to finish a PhD in physics. His university education in China had been interrupted by the Cultural Revolution. I described our very traditional menu to him and he was eager to try it all, except for the pumpkin pie. He was horrified at the idea of pumpkin pie and wanted no part of it.

Later, I found out that this was actually because of a minor mistranslation on his part. When he heard me say pumpkin, he thought I was talking about a kind of melon that is common in China. During the Cultural Revolution, Jang had been sent to the countryside and had nothing to eat but these melons for several years. They were a very bitter memory for him.

Back in my mother's kitchen, my parents were eager to accommodate our guest so our menu was adjusted to take Pumpkin Pie off and add Persimmon Pudding, about which Jang had no negative associations -- because he had no clue to what a persimmon was.

The dinner was a grand success. With the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, spiced peaches, noodles, peas with pearl onions and two types of cranberry sauce demolished, it was time to bring on the dessert.

I don't think I've mentioned, yet, that my mother had four cats. They, as cats will, considered all surfaces fair game for walking and sitting. Jang seemed a little put off by the high cat population in our house, but he was game and tolerated them rubbing his ankles.

When it was time for dessert, my mother told my younger brother (also an adult living at home at that time) to go get the pudding from the back porch, where it had been set to cool.

My brother returned a moment later with an odd look on his face and no pudding.

"How can you tell there's been an elephant in the refrigerator?" he asked, launching into a well-known (at the time) elephant joke.

My mother's eyes went wide. She understood the code.

For anyone who has never heard the joke, it goes:

How can you tell there's been an elephant in your refrigerator?
Footprints in the Jell-O.
Mom knew a cat had walked through the Persimmon Pudding.

She went out and carefully cut squares of pudding between the footprints and brought them back to serve. The pudding was a success and Jang professed to love it.

And while this would not seem to mandate dumping Pumpkin Pie in favor of Persimmon Pudding, since that year, my family has always served the pudding on Thanksgiving.

In honor of the coming holiday, here's the recipe:

Persimmon Pudding
 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
 2 cups persimmon pulp
 2 1/2 cups white sugar
 2 eggs, beaten
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1 pinch salt
 2 1/2 cups milk
 4 tablespoons melted butter

Mix all of the above and pour into a well-buttered 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees (F), for about 55 minutes. Pudding will rise, but will sink back down after you take it out of the oven.

It's served with Hard Sauce:

1 stick of butter at room temperature
2 cups of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of rum or whiskey

Beat together until well blended and light. Spread on a plate and refrigerate for several hours or overnight until hard.

Edited to correct a couple of typos.

 

Originally posted to elsaf on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 07:53 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No Overlap Of Chinese/American Humor (18+ / 0-)

    I used to bring old National Lampoons to work to show the Chinese, and even the cartoons that had no words just went past them. Likewise there was an article of translations of Chinese cartoons, and they were mystifying to me.

    However, they love persimmons, and cultivated hundreds of varieties for millenia.

    Also, they know nothing about possums, even if they've lived here for years.  I explain to them that these are not mythical animals.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 08:04:04 PM PST

    •  Similar to Americans and bearcats. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf

      Even when they see the animal, they don't quite believe it.

    •  When I was studying Chinese in the mid 80s (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf, emeraldmaiden, chantedor

      in college, I was also a foster Mom for a baby possum. Since the baby had to be fed periodically,I took her to classes with me each day in a gift bag-she was only 3-4" long-so that no one would realize that a possum was attending class.  
      We were fortunate to have 2 Professors from China as our teachers. One day I decided to show the older one the baby possum. He had never interacted with cats or dogs and was very uncomfortable around the possum. He stood at a fair distance and looked her over thoroughly but did not want to touch her. I told him I wanted a Chinese name for her. He thought for a moment and then called her Xiao Li. When I asked for the meaning of her name he said "small pretty"!
      My entire family got quite a laugh about my small pretty possum!

      Screw us and we multiply!

      by GAladybug on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 02:58:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pumpkin spice cake... (7+ / 0-)

    and hopefully something chocolate!
    Awesome story!

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 08:10:25 PM PST

  •  Really great diary (6+ / 0-)

    to read at Thanksgiving time...

    great storytelling, even if the jokes don't always work as you planned...

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 09:19:11 PM PST

  •  We just picked..... (6+ / 0-)

    around 100 persimmons from our tree to get rid of them before they fall to the ground with a great splat and coat everything underneath in a gelatinous pulp. Many are too high to harvest and I've always felt lucky that none has fallen on any of us as we walk underneath.  We give some away to the only two people we know who like them, and then end up throwing most of them away (which seems almost criminal because they are currently being sold for $4.00 each at our neighborhood supermarket).
    Oh how I've wanted to cut down that cursed tree, but it would increase the amount of summer sun in our back garden which is full of shade-loving plants.  So every year we deal with the mess of falling ripe persimmons.
    As for persimmon pudding, I'll suggest that as a use for the damned things.  Unfortunately, I'm on a gluten-free diet and wouldn't even be able to try a bite.

    A camel can carry a lot of gold, but it still eats alfalfa.

    by oldliberal on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 10:30:28 PM PST

    •  My neighbor has a nice tree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf, CherryTheTart

      He picks them and sells them to a couple of local produce stores/stands, but I don't know what he gets for them.  He used to be in the produce biz before he retired, so he's into it.

      I've never tried a persimmon before, but he's going to bring me a few when they get ripe.  The texture sounds a little suspect to me...I'm already imagining sea urchin.

      Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 06:00:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The texture... (0+ / 0-)

        ... is not unlike a ripe tomato. Not quite as wet, but think soft flesh surrounded by a tomato-like skin.

        Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

        by elsaf on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 06:09:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Texture depends on the variety (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elsaf

        One type is crunchy and a lot like an apple. I tried them for the second time ever at a Thanksgiving potluck last year, but just plain, not in a pie. The first time I tried one, it was the other, more tomato-like type and it made my mouth pucker terribly. Apparently that softer variety can do that if they're not ripe enough.

    •  using american persimmons (4+ / 0-)

      Once they're ripe, they are great to cook with. Rather than try to pulp them directly we put them in an electric mixer, mash them well, add milk (or water - whatever your recipe needs), stir and then filter out the seeds with a strainer.

      The pulp freezes very well so you don't have to use it all at once.

      I don't know how this works for gluten free, but basically using the pulp instead of banana's in a banana bread/muffin recipe works great!

      10 or so persimmons (mashed as above)
      1 cup milk
      1/4 cup or so sugar
      tablespoon oil
      mix and filter.
      add 2 eggs
      about 2 cups flour (I don't know what the gluten-free substitute is for this)
      tablespoon baking powder
      teaspoon (or so) salt
      teaspoon (or so) ground cinammon,
      teaspoon (or so) ground ginger

      bake at 350 in greased or oiled muffin tins.

      If you mix the persimmon pulp with milk and beat it gets very stiff - so I suspect one could make a persimmon custard

      Something like
      10 or so persimmons, pulped
      1 cup milk
      mix and filter.
      add 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, cinammon and ginger
      tablespoon corn starch (maybe)
      beat until stiff then steam or bake until set.

      (I haven't tried this so it may not work)

    •  My friend's dog would eat the Persimmions that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf, sidnora

      fell on the ground. That might me a good solution for your tree problem, but I don't know what this did for the dog.

    •  I hope you don't cut it down! (5+ / 0-)

      American persimmons are amazing.  I've been told that there used to be a very productive tree in our front yard, but the former owners cut it down because of the mess - I wish it was still there!  American Persimmons are amazing to cook with, much more intensely flavorful than the Asian varieties sold in markets.  I have planted American Persimmons hoping to get a productive female without success, and then was very pleasantly surprised when a 'volunteer' in a neglected hedge started dropping fruit last year.  I carefully collected the fruit as it fell, washed them, and put them in plastic bags in the freezer.  We had yummy persimmon bread several times that year!  You can also make amazing persimmon jam, cookies, ice cream, pancakes, chutney, etc.  I use this persimmon bread recipe (cutting the sugar to just 1 cup - the fruit is very sweet on its own).

      If you can't use all of the fruit, perhaps you can find a good locavore restaurant that would like them - there's one in Chapel Hill that has served persimmon pudding seasonally for years, using persimmons from a tree in a nearby yard.

      Native species of animals also eat the fruit.  We have fox in our neighborhood, and they seem to gorge on the fruit when it's available.

    •  Easy way to get rid of them (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf

      Or at least, a lot of them, is to put an ad on freecycle.org or on the free category on craigslist, offering them to anyone who wants to come and pick them (up). I've gotten rid of excess fruits that way, and I've also obtained some fruits from other people's trees through freecycle.

    •  One year (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf

      a friend took me to a couple of old old granddaddy persimmon trees. The groundfalls were a gluey, gloppy mess, so we rigged up a couple of painters' dropcloths on the ground, and then climbed the tree and shook it. We wound up with two five gallon buckets about 3/4 full.

      The local persimmons here in Florida are cultivated, yielding much larger fruit, a very small flavor sacrifice to be spared the drudgery of prepping the fruit.

      The pudding I make calls for a cup of buttermilk and a cup of half and half, and no vanilla. I serve with fresh spanked cream.

      mmmmMMMMMmmmm

  •  Wonderful diary. (8+ / 0-)

    Wonderfully told.

    Persimmons always remind me of my grandmother, who was from Oklahoma, where they grew in her yard. She loved persimmons, though no one else in the family but me would touch them.

    I have many, many sweet memories of sharing persimmons with my Mama Rae when they came into season each year around the holidays. There was even a song she'd sing to me, something about a raccoon and a 'possum fighting over a persimmon tree. All I remember is the line "'possum said, 'you rascal, you, throw them 'simmons down!'" And we'd laugh about it as we ate our persimmons. It was lovely.

    Thanks for the diary, and thanks for reminding me to think about my grandma.

    "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

    by Wheever on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 10:34:26 PM PST

  •  What a wonderful story! (5+ / 0-)

    You had me giggling...this was great:

    They were tickled by Polish jokes. Mind you, I didn't tell them as Polish jokes. I told them as "foolish person" jokes. It turns out that the Chinese have their own "Polish jokes," though they tell them as "The stupid farmer from [whatever province the teller is not from] jokes."
    I don't think I've ever eaten persimmon anything, but the Cambodians I used to work with loved them.  Then again, they'd lived here for a while -- they weren't exchange students.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 10:38:22 PM PST

  •  Thanks for sharing this memory! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, FindingMyVoice, sidnora

    Did you keep up your study of Mandarin? Your mother was a very enterprising woman!

    This reminds me of a song:

    Cats in the pudding
    And a silver spoon
    Little boy blue and the man in the moon...

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 03:52:59 AM PST

    •  I wish I had (7+ / 0-)

      I always meant to maintain my proficiency in Mandarin, but life doesn't always work out the way you plan.

      Today, I have a few things I can say in Mandarin, but it's mostly gone.

      One exception: A few years back when "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" came out, I found the remnants of Mandarin in my head ... distracting. I went to the movie and found I didn't need to read the subtitles. I was understanding the Chinese dialog -- most of the time. They could come up on a word I didn't know, and I would have forgotten to read the subtitles -- and the word would be gone by the time I thought to look at the bottom of the screen for it.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:12:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm with you there (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elsaf

        I spent 4 years living in China and teaching English to college freshmen. The schools where I taught offered free Mandarin classes to the English speaking teachers. I learned a little, but it slips away so fast. Watching Chinese films with subtitles, I catch some of the dialog.

  •  Pecan Pie for Fellow Hoosier (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    What a delight of a diary, and a reminder of how unbelievably nice people can be in Indiana.

    We will be having pecan pie made with a touch of molasses. This is truly one of the most delicious pies in the known universe, my wife's special recipe. We are from Alabama, so grew up in the land of the giant pecan tree and pecan pie, although we have been in Indiana for going on 28 or so now.

    I retired recently after 25 years on staff at Indiana University in Bloomington. For most of those years, we made it a point to invite a foreign student or couple, through Bloomington Worldwide Friendship group, to our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We developed friendships some of which have lasted decades, with people with whom we still stay in touch.

    "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” --Yogi Berra

    by HeartlandLiberal on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 04:40:02 AM PST

  •  We have pecan pie. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

     
    I love your persimmon story and recipe. We are building. A house near Austin. It has a persimmon tree in the yard already. I once had persimmon bread and it was delicious.

  •  Thanks for posting this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, FourthOfJulyAsburyPark

    ...I really enjoyed it. I was attempting to make Cornish game hens with dressing and fresh cranberry mango salsa last weekend, but neither grocery store within walking distance had mangoes. One of them did have persimmons, however, and it was my first time ever seeing them. They subbed nicely in for mangoes in my recipe.

  •  Pecan Pie (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, OleHippieChick

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:22:43 AM PST

  •  rec'd for mention of Columbus, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, drmah

    a lovely little city, and the only place in the Hoosier State where I've spent any time.  About ten years ago my Chinese friend, who was employed by Cummins in Beijing at the time, attended a conference at the Columbus headquarters, and I joined him there.  While he was busy with meetings and training sessions during the day, I explored the city's architecture and beautiful surrounding countryside. The corn fields, wooded hills and streams reminded me of my native SE Minnesota.

    •  Columbus has been called... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stoneboat, drmah

      ... the Athens of the Midwest.

      The amazing architecture happened because Irwin Miller, who made his fortune through Cummins, donated money through the Cummins Foundation for architects anytime a public or religious building was built in the '50s and '60s.

      My grandfather, who started out as a milliner, had a dress shop on the main drag downtown. Even the building it was in is gone now, but it was a feature there from around 1920 to the late '70s.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:33:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Persimmons in China (3+ / 0-)

    Great story!  I will definitely try Persimmon Pudding.  While in China, I fell in love with Chinese persimmons, which are much nicer and easier to eat than western persimmons.  You can eat them like an apple while still firm without that pucker effect.  They're smaller and flatter, and sold from carts in Chinatown in NYC.

    I experienced the humor gap in China when I suggested everyone say "cheese" for a photo.  The Chinese don't really have cheese or milk products, so that was a wash.  And they say qiezi when they pose for a photo, which means eggplant.  You make a smiling face when you pronounce it, like when you say cheese.

    My friend Hsu traveled with my husband and me while we were in China researching the traditional kite.  He was our translator, and though he has lived in the U.S. for decades, he still has a charming way of mangling the English language.  One of my favorite mangles was Hsu calling persimmons - placentas.

    In the street market in Xian, Muslim women were making bright orange persimmon cakes in big woks - more like patties than cakes, and they were fried, not baked.  They looked delicious, but we didn't try them because we'd just had a fantastic lunch.  I've been searching for a recipe without luck.

    •  I adore Asian persimmons (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf

      And I buy them by the box in Chinatown. I like them a little  riper than you describe. They get juicier as they soften a bit. I haven't had any yet this year - I'm overdue!

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 03:15:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  was the cat on the way TO the litter box, or (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, drmah, FourthOfJulyAsburyPark

    on the way BACK FROM the litter box when it decided to stroll through the pudding?

    Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:48:14 AM PST

  •  Apple Crisp w/Ice Cream, and pumkin pie (3+ / 0-)

    I've just in the past 3 years rediscovered how tasty and easy apple crisp is, so I'm adding it to the desert list this year.

    Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:52:49 AM PST

  •  I'd like something apple-y warm a la mode too. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    I ♥ President Obama. ~ Yes, we did. Again.
    NOW: Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO Grand Bargain.
    Rich pay a bit more. DoD take a bit less. End war on Afghanistan sooner.

    by OleHippieChick on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:56:09 AM PST

  •  Why can't I separate persimmons from parsimony? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, OleHippieChick

    WHY!?!? I can't eat them...and it wouldn't matter if they tasted like tutti fruiti ice cream with a side of bacon I couldn't eat them due my own inherent prejudice from an homonymnal association of the 3rd kind in which the mere thought of eating persimmons activates a response so extreme as to characterize it as homonymphomaniacal if not homonycidal. So forgive me if I abstain.

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 06:01:11 AM PST

    •  I'm sort of like that... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OleHippieChick

      ... with Eggnog. I've never tasted it. There's just something about the idea of it that weirds me out.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 06:11:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Me too. Parsnips. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf

      And persimmons. As a NYer, I thought them to be alien, "astringent" (thanks, author!) objects to be bitten into and spit out. I'd like to actually enjoy something persimmon made properly.
      After trying mamey sapote, though, I'm hesitant with mystery fruit.

      I ♥ President Obama. ~ Yes, we did. Again.
      NOW: Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO Grand Bargain.
      Rich pay a bit more. DoD take a bit less. End war on Afghanistan sooner.

      by OleHippieChick on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 06:17:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Here's a way around it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terabytes, elsaf

      an Asian p-word is also called a fuyu. You can use that name.
      And the botantical name of the American p-word is Diospyros virginiana, the first part of which means "fruit of the gods".
      Does that help?

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 03:24:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I LOVE pumpkin pie, but... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, carolanne

    my spouse and son are NOT fans.  We discuss this every year, further complicated by our tradition of driving three hours away to spend our holiday in a state park with trees, hills, and some trout fishing (no family nearby).  This means either having to make and transport a made dessert, or make it in the small cabin and limited kitchen at the park.  I have brought ingredients and made my own some years (my spouse will eat the stuff if it's the first day, and the crust is no soggy, and some other conditions), but I'm on my own to finish it off.  This doesn't bother me, but has sometimes been accompanied by the "do you need all those calories?" inquiry (what? at THANKSGIVING?!?!??).

    Some years it has been apple, or a store-bought pumpkin pie, or some other dessert.  More often, it has NOT been pumpkin the last few years.  I even have the ingredients in the cupboard right now, but unless I make the pie (to protests from some quarters) and eat it myself (which may also be accompanied by cocked eyebrow and fish-eye),  I think we're having a cheesecake and some leftover flourless chocolate cake.

    Happy Thanksgiving, whatever dessert may be.

    I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 06:40:11 AM PST

  •  Italian Goo Bars. Thanks for a delightful post. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    I will make the pudding and get a memory chuckle about cat tracks.  My cat Orlando would love to give the pudding a try, just tracks though.

  •  Persimmon Pudding is a family holiday staple (6+ / 0-)

    I also bake a persimmon pudding every year for Thanksgiving, as do most of my siblings.  My mother's family comes from Mitchell, Indiana, a town that celebrates the persimmon and persimmon pudding like no place in the world. The Persimmon Festival has been held in Mitchell for 66 years.

    This was the first year the festival the festival was held without Dymple Green, Dymple unfortunately died June 24, 2012. She was a neighbor and good friend of my mother's sister.  My aunt and I visited with Dymple in 2008 and I was able to do an oral history recording with Dymple.

  •  I never been a religious person (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    But i give thanks to everybody here that made the sacrifice over the past few years of your life , the election is over and try on Thanksgiving day to be civil with your  Republican relatives , and be thankful for all your blessing ,bestowed on you as  small as they  maybe,Happy  Thanksgiving

  •  Thanks for sharing this recipe! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, FourthOfJulyAsburyPark

    I will definitely be trying this recipe soon.  I grew up eating persimmons post the first frost in Alabama.  Not many folks can appreciate the radical change in flavor between a green persimmon and a ripe persimmon!  My grandmother always told me that eating the green ones would give you lockjaw (lol), but once they turn sweet, wild persimmons are especially awesome. I've seen some commercially grown persimmons at Publix, but have been wary of them to date...as they look suspiciously large  compared to the variety I enjoyed as a child.

    We will be having pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie (sans the pumpkin pie spices in at least one of the pies)...why make a sweet potato pie that tastes just like pumpkin pie?  Also:  pecan pie, black walnut pie, and some yet to be determined cakes, but a fresh orange cake is usually a staple.  Hopefully, my aunt will make some dried apple turnovers (aka fried apple pies).  Our dishes are usually centered around what's in season.  I feel heavier already!

    www.volunteermatch.org

    by IamtheReason on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 07:23:09 AM PST

    •  Sweet Potato Pie! Yes! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf

      I never heard of sweet potato pie tasting like pumpkin pie. I make both on Thanksgiving.

      The sweet potato pie recipe comes from the mother of one of my late father's friends. She was originally from the south, Georgia if I recall correctly. For years, he would bring us a sweet potato pie the day before Thanksgiving.

      •  Agreed! I had never heard of such either until (0+ / 0-)

        recently, but many folks I have met basically just replace pumpkin with sweet potato in their pumpkin pie recipe and call it sweet potato pie...which it most certainly is NOT.  This is non-sensical to me.

        My Aunt would use only sweet potato, vanilla, egg,butter, and sugar in her pies.  Simple and awesome.

        I did try a great variation this year in that I had some egg nog that I needed to get out of the way, so I just used the egg nog in place of the eggs...turned out awesome!

        I'd be interested to hear your recipe for Sweet Potato pie when you get a chance...

        www.volunteermatch.org

        by IamtheReason on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:09:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  How do you make (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elsaf

      a sweet potato pie that's flavored differently than a pumpkin pie?

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 03:28:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My Mother made the absolute best Persimmion (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, melo, PSoTD, terabytes

    Pudding in the world.  Everyone one in the family knew what her contribution would be for Thanksgiving dinner, no matter where in Indiana we were that year.  
    The year that my Father-in-Law was killed in an automobile accident on July 4th, my Mother-in-Law spent over a month in intensive care and, needless to say, all six children and their families were worried about how she would adjust alone.  

    A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I took her a couple of quarts of frozen Persimmion pulp and thought she would be all set for the Holiday at my house. When she arrived she had NO persimmion pudding.  The family was floored by her explaination. "Doyle was the one who loved Persimmion Pudding," she said and continued,"Now that he's gone, I don't ever have to make that stuff again." That's when we knew she would be quite alright on her own.

  •  I scored a heritage-breed turkey this year, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    which should go great with cornbread and persimmon pudding!  We have American persimmons from our tree waiting in the freezer.  There are still some on the tree; I've learned from uncomfortable experience to let them fall on their own (and go splat on our driveway) rather than picking them from the tree.

  •  Growing up in North Carolina... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, FourthOfJulyAsburyPark

    We had persimmon trees all over the place. Much smaller that the commercial variety I've seen since, but after the frost you'd see people out in the city parks picking them up off the ground. Carefully, though, as they were a favorite of yellow jackets.

    I had persimmon pudding a time or two and it was always delicious.

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

    by RonV on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 09:49:36 AM PST

  •  I'll chime in from the West Coast (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, FourthOfJulyAsburyPark

    My dad's family has been out here in SoCal for more than a century but they have the Persimmon Pudding tradition. My mom is from Philly area and she added the hard sauce but both sides ate it.

    We've always had the trees around. They are messy and I'm no fan of just opening one up and eating them raw. That's a big texture (slime) thing for me. We get big fruit, much bigger than the East Coast side of the family was used to but the flavor was the same.

  •  What a lovely story and diary. We have a recent (3+ / 0-)

    tradition of substituting Pumpkin Bread Pudding for the traditional Pumpkin Pie at our house and even those who don't care much for the pie love the bread pudding.  For anyone who might be interested here is my recipe.

    3 cups half and half
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    6 large egg yolks
    1/2 cup sugar
    3 tbsp pure maple syrup
    1 cup canned pumpkin puree
    2 tbsp bourbon or brandy
    1 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    1, 1 lb. loaf Challah, or Brioche bread, cut into 1 inch cubes, aoout 10 to 12 cups
    Store bought caramel sauce, for serving
    Sweetened Whip Cream, for serving

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Combine the half and half, vanilla extract, the egg yolks, sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and bourbon in a large bowl and whisk well to combine.

    Scatter the bread cubes in a buttered 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish.  Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to totally submerge it in the custard.  Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the custard to totally soak into the bread.  Check after 30 minutes by breaking a cube of bread in half to make sure it is totally soaked through, if not press down again into the custard and let sit for another 15 minutes.  You want the custard to totally soak into the bread cubes or it will not taste right.

    Place the baking dish into a larger roasting pan and pour very hot tap water into the roasting pan until it comes half way up the sides of the glass dish.  Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles just slightly, about 1 hour.  

    Remove from the oven and the water bath and cool on a baking rack on your counter for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with drizzles of warm caramel sauce over each serving, and whipped cream.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.8., -6.6

    by helpImdrowning on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 11:02:14 AM PST

    •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      helpImdrowning

      Bread Pudding is one of my favorite things in the world, and Pumpkin Bread Pudding would have to be splendid!

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 11:18:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I love bread pudding too, it is so homey and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elsaf

        delicious.  This can be made without baking the night before or earlier in the day and refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap.  When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator, let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour, and bake as directed.  Depending on how cold it is before baking, it may need to cook for an additional 10 or 15 minutes.  To judge doneness look for slightly puffed edges/sides and just a tiny bit jiggly in the center.  It will finish firming up as it rests for the 30 minutes on the counter.  Bread pudding is not like cake, the toothpick test - coming out dry when poked in the middle - does not relate to bread pudding.  Happy Holidays to all!

        "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.8., -6.6

        by helpImdrowning on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 12:33:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for an enjoyable diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    I'm really fond of baking, but I have a family where almost everyone is on a diet most of the year, so Thanksgiving becomes a big blow out feast. Since no one likes the idea of not having their most favorite desert on the one day of the year they can gorge themselves without guilt, I wind up making almost as many desert items as there are people. A chocolate cake, because that's the only desert my brother-law-eats. An apple pie, because my sister is alergic to raw apples and can only eat apples cooked. Sometimes, I'll make an apple cake instead. Pumpkin ice cream is a family tradition. I've already mentioned the Sweet Potato pie. It varies year to year. Pumpkin pie used to be my favorite, but no one else liked it. A couple of years ago I made a pumpkin chiffon pie which was much more popular.

  •  You had me at persimmon (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, bontemps2012, terabytes

    I'm also from Indiana, my folks were from Marion and I was born in Muncie.  My grandparents had a couple of persimmon trees and my Grandma made the richest, most delicious persimmon pudding I've ever had.  She's been gone now for a decade and it's probably been 20 years since I last had home-made persimmon pudding - but we're going to take this recipe and make it soon.

    Appropriate for the season, I'm very thankful for your post.

  •  A belated thank-you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    for a wonderfully enjoyable diary.

    Never tasted a persimmon, alas, but the pudding sure sounds good.

    Thanks again.

  •  What a delightful story! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    My young cousin is studying Mandarin now, and will be at my table for Thanksgiving. I'm going to try to remember to show this to her.

    Pumpkin pie, apple pie, and some kind of chocolate-pecan pie (I'm not making the last one). With a choice of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or good Cheddar (for the apple pie).

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

    by sidnora on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 03:09:28 PM PST

  •  Lovely story and lovely writing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    Thankee most kindly.

    I'd never heard of persimmon pudding, but it looks interesting enough to try.

    Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why. -- Hunter S. Thompson

    by Mnemosyne on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 04:14:03 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the Hoosier flashback. (nt) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf
  •  I always thought persimmon was a paint colour. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    I didn't discover it was an actual thing until much later.

  •  Persimmons are wonderful. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terabytes, elsaf

    Thank you for this delightful, warm diary.

    We have had a great persimmon crop this year in Kentucky, and I got enough to make persimmon pudding.  On a field trip in early November, I introduced a group of people to eating fresh persimmons after showing them how to pick the ripe ones.  It is not true that persimmons require a freeze to ripen - they ripen in late October/early November as long as there have been some cool nights.  We did not get a hard freeze until almost a month after we harvested the persimmons.

    Here is a picture of this year's persimmon crop:

  •  Do you know why ducks have flat feet? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf

    To stamp out forest fires.

    Do you know why elephants have flat feet?

    To stamp out flaming ducks.

    The Democrats create jobs. The Republicans create recessions.

    by Tuba Les on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 08:32:01 PM PST

    •  LOL! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tuba Les

      I remember that one.

      And a related joke that goes back even farther:

      How do you get down off an elephant?
      You don't! You get down off a duck!

      and:

      Why do little ducks walk softly?
      Because little ducks can't walk hardly.

      ;-)

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 08:51:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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