Monday, September 10, 2007

First Among Fruits


I was wandering through the produce section at one of the local markets this weekend when I was stopped in my tracks. Half way across the area, a basket rested on the exotic fruit table, filled with pomegranates. True, they weren't especially large or red, but they were there! Two whole months before I expected to see one! I exercised great restraint by only buying two instead of the whole basket.


The pomegranate is my favorite fruit, not only because it's delicious, but also because of the mythology surrounding it. In Greek myth, Persephone was tricked into staying in the Underworld when she ate six pomegranate seeds. In Jewish tradition, there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate, corresponding to the 613 commandments of the Torah. In Christian iconography, Christ is often holding a pomegranate in Virgin and Child scenes.


The pomegranate (or nur) is also one of the symbols of Armenia, representing marriage, fertility and abundance. Throughout the Middle East, pomegranates are used in wedding rituals; the more seeds in the fruit, the more fruitful the marriage will be.


The health benefits of pomegranates are tremendous, as well, as the recent surge of pomegranate-related products supports. The antioxidants in the fruit are especially beneficial for the heart... but if you want all the details, a quick web search will provide what you're looking for.


Despite the millions of pomegranate products, I'll be sticking with the real thing when I can find it. There's something so zen about peeling the arils, or seeds, out from the leathery skin, sampling a tart seed now and again.


Note: The title for this post comes from the poem "Garden Song," translated by Ezra Pound and Noel Stark, second-hand from Egyptian hieroglypics, about the pomegranate.

6 comments:

Liney said...

Wow that is early - they're not out here yet

Rhea said...

I agree, it's better to eat a real one than to drink that juice. I wonder if I should count the seeds to make sure that number is right. Maybe during a snowstorm this winter when I have nothing better to do.

eufemia said...

THIS FRUIT IS USED FOR A MEXICAN MEAL, WHICH IS COOKED FOR A HOLIDAY ON SEPTEMBER. ITS GREAT, WITH PORKMEAT, RAISINS, GOAT CHEESE, AND CHILE POBLANO. ITS DELICIOUS

jef said...

Do you really take all the seeds out like that every time you eat one? I rarely have the restraint to keep a nice plateful like that, they usually go from fruit to mouth.

nicisme said...

I don't know if I like them or not - I'll have to give them another go. But I absolutely love that first photo, the colours are gorgeous!

Pam said...

Liney, hopefully you can find one the next time you see your dad ;)

Rhea, I might end up doing that too, depending on how bad the winter gets...

Eufemia, that sounds like a terrific combination of flavors

Jef, I hate how sticky my hands feel while I peel them, so I'll do two or three at a time, then save the arils in the fridge for snacking throughout the week

Necisme, I can understand not liking them - try eating one aril at a time, the inside won't be as tough to chew. And thanks!