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fruit of the gods

Fruit of the gods

Kenichi Kamei / The Senior Executive Director of Japan Agricultural Cooperatives Kihoku – Kawakami

David Schlosser, the well-known chef of Japanese kappo-style restaurant “Shibumi” in LA, is excited at the opportunity to serve persimmons imported from Japan. “More restaurants should serve it,” he said. “Not many Americans eat persimmons growing up, so chefs have to start teaching the consumers.”
Ah, what can be said of the main dish? We were served duck resting on a nice soft pancake with roasted persimmons mixed into the dough. It was delicious.

Caption: David Schlosser / The well-known chef of Japanese kappo-style restaurant “Shibumi” in LA
When we arrived, we were led to a rectangular table and were met by men in yellow and red “happi” coats with the Chinese character for “kaki,” or persimmon in Japanese, written on their backs. We were going to be served non-astringent persimmons, they said, as opposed to the astringent persimmons which are common in the US. The only way I have ever used persimmons as part of a dish is with Japanese white radish, or daikon, marinated with mayonnaise. Not knowing what to expect, I was very curious as to what would be delivered to my plate.
This was followed by persimmon satsuki rice porridge with sea urchin, abalone, and geoduck. It resembled an Italian risotto rather than a traditional Japanese porridge, or okayu. The combination of seafood and persimmons was so good, to my delight and surprise, that my new friends at the table decided to ask for another bowl. Unfortunately, they were rejected.
The first dish we were served was persimmon salad with grapes, red walnuts and sherry vinegar. It was naturally sweet and could almost pass for dessert if it weren’t for the vinegar.
On a bright sunny October day in downtown Los Angeles, I attended a tasting event put together by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and about 30 chefs and influencers. We had a chance to bite into delicious persimmons imported from Wakayama Prefecture. Wakayama, located in the western part of Japan and known for its mild climate and hilly lands, is the top producer of persimmons in Japan. Persimmons grow on trees, like plums, and are abundant in tannin, a type of polyphenol which reduces cholesterol. They also contain a good amount of vitamin A and C.

When we finished, Kenichi Kamei, the Senior Executive Director of Japan Agricultural Cooperatives Kihoku – Kawakami, a part of Wakayama, proudly explained to us that Wakayama persimmons have been presented to the Emperor and Empress for over 30 years. He also said enthusiastically that 12 tons of permissions from the prefecture will be shipped to California and Hawaii.

When I think of autumn in Japan, I think of chestnuts, matsutake mushrooms and persimmons. Persimmons were known to the ancient Greeks as the “fruit of the gods”, and with good reason. I love their bright orange color and their pleasant sweetness. I love cutting them into pieces and eating them as if they were apples. And I love that they remind me of Japan in the autumn. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve realized that hardly anyone here knows about them. But guess what? The beautiful Japanese persimmons are making their way to American supermarkets and restaurants this autumn.

20 things you never knew about the pomegranate

In Greek mythology, the pomegranate symbolised both death and fertility, a confusing negative/positive message for ancient consumers and one which the Chinese pomegranate PRs were quick to put right by making the fruit a symbol of immortality and fertility some centuries later. Indeed, at Chinese wedding, the seeds were sugared and served to guests during the ceremony. And, when the bride and groom retired to the chamber to consummate their marriage, the assembled friends and family would throw pome-granates on to the floor of the bedroom to encourage a long and fruitful marriage, which must have been an unwelcome distraction for the couple at a tense time.
And it is not just everyday Joes who are quaffing pomegranate juice with reckless abandon; celebrities are doing it too. Jennifer Lopez is one reported “celebrity convert”, as are Lindsay Lohan and Will Smith. While, for Desperate Housewives’ Eva Longoria, pomegranate juice provides a welcome fillip after an exhausting schedule of jumping from one consumer bandwagon to another.

19 The pomegranate developed into the orb that a monarch holds
I do not think it is too bold a statement to say that pome-granates stop you from dying. In America, at least, this seems to be the message. Across Los Angeles, giant billboards promoting pomegranate juice are emblazoned with the message “Defy Death”. No wonder, then, that the pomtini – a pomegranate martini – is a favourite at Hollywood parties and the official cocktail at last year’s Oscars.
2 Research suggests the juice may prove to be a treatment for erectile dysfunction
So what is this superfood said to do for you? Well, fight heart disease, protect unborn children from brain damage, lower blood pressure, reduce the signs of ageing, increase fertility, smooth, cleanse and protect your skin from the sun. And if that is not enough to convince you, laboratory research published recently suggests that the pomegranate also “shows promise” against skin, breast and prostate cancer, menopausal symptoms, ulcers, HIV, the herpes virus and erectile dysfunction.
5 The Prophet Mohammed said eating them would purge the bodies of longing

The ancient Egyptians, on the other hand, used to be buried with pomegranates. The loose thinking behind this custom was that the qualities of sexual energy and fertility that the blood red exterior and seedy interior of the pomegranate conveyed would help the interred Egyptian to be reborn.

Everyone is doing it. Pomegranate juice has become the UK’s fastest-growing fruit drink, with Tesco reporting that sales of their pomegranate product are up 300 per sent since the start of the year; that is 500,000 litres a week. Zoe Parker, a juice buyer for Tesco has never seen anything like it. "Britain has fallen head over heels in love with pomegranate juice," Ms Parker