Kesemak: King of the Fruits

A few months ago, I was at another meeting about dance. Like co-op meetings, these things are usually events that I grit my teeth and plow through, turning to my phone for solace during particularly boring or ridiculous moments. This one was shaping up to be no different as we sat around waiting for people to show up. When one of my friends came over to talk to me, I was all too happy to turn away from the circle to see what she wanted.

What she wanted was to offer me half of a piece of fruit. I looked at it a little suspiciously, as I look at all new foods. She, however, insisted, so I took it and that was the moment my life changed.

The fruit was firmer than a plum, almost like an apple but with an altogether different texture. Its taste was akin to that of a plum as well, but better. I’ve never liked very juicy, very sweet plums and this appeared to be a fruit that had solved all that. Plums being in my top three fruits, the discovery was no less than amazing.

“What is this?!” I spluttered, my Indonesian even less coherent than normal. “It’s so good!”

My friend laughed and told me the name: kesemak.

I scrambled for a pen to write it down. “Where can I buy it? The supermarket? Do I have to go the actual market?”

She confirmed that, yes, I would have to go to the market to procure this marvelous delicacy.

I thought about the bargaining I would have to do. I didn’t care.

Luckily for me, though, the next time I went to the market was with another of my friends, someone who could speak Javanese to ladies with big baskets of fruit surrounding them while I smiled and kept my mouth shut. After buying spices for Sophia and eating a breakfast of noodles, he bought me three of these glorious fruits.

Kesemak (or persimmons, as it turns out) don’t look good in the market. They’re an unappetizing mix of yellow, grey, and brown and not something I would ever think to buy.

“Ah, that’s a vain fruit,” my friend’s mother said when she heard what we planned to buy at the market.

I smiled and nodded as I so often do when I have no clue what’s going on.

“It puts powder on,” she clarified.

And she’s right. The grey color of the persimmons is brought about by this powder that covers them. When I got my persimmons home, I attempted to wash the powder off, to little success. In the end, I resorted to peeling the whole thing, a task that was rendered trickier by virtue of the fact that the fruit was lacking any sort of apple-like skin. When I say peel, I mean I sliced off the outer part of the fruit itself. Well worth it, as I was then presented with the lovely yellow of the fruit itself.

(Post title obviously stolen from the durian’s epithet.)


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