We went to visit my friends in Perugia the other week. It was a sunny warm day, so all of us set off for a brisk walk. I was hoping to come across a persimmon (“cachi” in Italian) tree, which are easy to find almost everywhere in Italy. And, sure enough, at the end of our jaunt we came across one near an abandoned house. Our men climbed up on the old stone wall to get closer to the branches and eager to pick the sweetest fruit there was.
November-December is the best time to harvest cachi. Quite often, they are ignored as a kind of ubiquitous weed by Italians, which puzzles me, a foreigner from the Northern hemisphere. Persimmon fruit trees are hardy and don’t need to be looked after in order to bear sometimes staggering amounts of fruit. A large mature tree can produce up to 80 kilos of delicious cachi. The fruit ripens when the leaves fall off the tree and, as the first frost hits, they soften and lose their astringent “bite”. Italians eat fresh cachi as a dessert, with a spoon. Its jelly-like pulp is almost translucent and very sweet. Not for everyone’s taste but I, personally, agree with the ancient Greeks who called a close relative of the Italian cachi “the fruit of the gods”.
I came back from Perugia with a large plastic container full of soft gorgeous cachi. My head was full of ideas for culinary experiments: cachi and ricotta fool, cachi and spicy paprika chutney to go with cheese. Alas, none of those came to fruition: I devoured the fresh divine fruits with such a zeal that they were gone within two days. So, it is time to organise another cachi foraging walk, I guess.