Origin: Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site
Period: 20th Century - present
Course: Beverages and Other
Photo of Dr. Norman Bethune
© Parks Canada
Two days before his death, Dr. Norman Bethune was brought by stretcher to Huangshikou, a village in rural Hebei Province, China. He stayed there with Di Cuixing and his family. They tried to make him a chicken broth to help fight the infection he was suffering from, but he couldn’t stomach it. So they tried feeding him a persimmon, a local fruit which was then in season. Bethune enjoyed this and was able to eat two of the sweet fruits, along with a little coffee. This was to become his last meal, as he succumbed to blood poisoning early the following day. Today, people who visit Dr. Bethune’s place of death to pay tribute to him are often served persimmon. You can learn more about Dr. Bethune's life and legacy at Bethune National Historic Site in Gravenhurst, Ontario.
Anecdote courtesy of Roderick and Sharon Stewart
Here are instructions for eating this fruit, fresh and uncooked, as it would have been eaten by Dr Norman Bethune as his last meal.
- Select a ripe, deep-orange coloured persimmon. Wash the fruit gently. Carefully slice off the top leaves and discard them. Slice the fruit as you would a tomato...and enjoy.
- Persimmons are also delicious added to salads, made into sorbet or turned into jam.