Have you ever tasted hoshigaki? This tender and chewy treat has the flavor of gingerbread, but it's not a baked good or dessert as you might think, but a dried persimmon. Making these dried persimmons is a traditional Japanese art. From fruit to treat is a labor-intensive process. They are "harvested firm, peeled by hand, strung up to dry for a month or so and manually massaged to break up their fibers and keep their flesh soft." Finally, the surface is covered with fine white powdered sugar that is naturally exuded by the fruit.
The practice of making hoshigaki came to the United States in the late 19th century. Immigrants to California continued the practice in their new country. The artisinal food revolution has revived what seemed a lost art. You can find handmade hoshigaki at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market. The most traditional time to give hoshigaki as gifts is right around New Years, so place your order now. I'm definitely craving a box!
Read more about hoshigaki here.