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12/4/14

Vyasar Ganesan

On Persimmons

My first persimmon arrived just before the new millennium. In her continual search for new kitchen experiments, my mother explored the more exotic section of H-E-B's (Here Everything's Better) produce aisle, and returned home bearing four squat, orange bulbs. I was ten, reading comics at the table, waiting for my cake and milk. She placed one in front of me, smiled, and told me to try it.

From minute one, the persimmon was suspect. They mock tomatoes in hue and shape, but smell like the whole wheat dough my mother cooked with. They boast the University of Texas's orange color, bright and sunshiney, but they are not a premium Longhorn beefsteak, should such a varietal exist. They are fruit, with deceptive skin and a squareness to their shape.

But for my mother's sake, I took a bite. The flesh was creepily smooth, like a peach without water. What little succulence that comes is rapidly lost to the taste buds, a brief sweetness that does not return. In its place comes something ashen, something a bit too dark for a fruit this bright.

To me, it was only natural that I should not take a second bite. But my mother rose in a fury. To question one serving of experimental fruit was to undermine the kitchen. She would not be party to such insolence, she said. If I did not finish at least one-half of this persimmon, it would be waiting for me after dinner.

She left me sitting glumly for the backyard garden. A book of illustrated Greek myths were next to my plate, open to Persephone and her trials in Hades. On a platter before her reluctant, blushing face, were drinks, delights, sweetmeats, breads and fruits of all dimensions. There too, was the persimmon, cheekily orange behind a bloody pomegranate. Holding the feast before her was the devil in armor, head cast down, a posture of tempting, mock servility.

She, too, refused the fruit! Nobody, I conjectured, must actually like a persimmon. They are a kind of torture, a test of the iron gut or will, a maddening suggestion towards actual fruit. I looked at the porcelain plate, stared at the sliced vileness there, and released a little tear.

Vyasar Ganesan is a writer from Austin, TX. His specific literary interests are food writing, amateur engineering, Indian life in America and travel writing, among other subjects. He has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, which makes him a card-carrying artist. He delights in the everyday and detests the willfully obtrusive.

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