Persimmons, or kaki, are very particular fruits. They have a sweet, delicate flavour, somewhat like browned sugar with a slight floral aftertaste. Their season is quite brief, starting in late autumn and finishing before the winter frost sinks its teeth in. If you don’t live in an area where they grow, they can be hard to come by. When ripe, the plump orange bulbs swell with a golden goo and the thin skin easily splits apart. For this reason, they don’t do well in grocery stores and certainly can’t be shipped across the globe like apples.
Growing up in Northern California, I never saw persimmons, nor ever tasted one. If it hadn’t been for my father talking about them being his favourite fruit, I may never even have known of their existence. Fortunately, they are very common in Italy and the hills of the Cinque Terre are speckled with these bare trees, branches weighed down by heavy orange fruits. My first experience was in Sicily when we bought a flat of ‘cacchi’ from a guy in a parking lot. This if often where you’ll get the best produce in Sicily--from the back of a truck in a random parking lot.