When it comes to fruits, pomegranates rate highly in my food lexicon. Growing up, instead of getting oranges at the toe of our stockings on Christmas Day, we would occasionally find pomegranates…and then fight to keep them away from my mother who would seize upon them in glee.
But, given the labour involved in “dissecting” one, I never truly appreciated the pomegranate until I was in Ottawa a few years ago visiting my aunt. We had a lovely time sitting in her kitchen while she took a few apart…and I learned from her that the trick is spending the time to take one (or two or three) apart at once so you have a ready supply in the fridge.
There will be future posts on what I call the “Zen” of food prep and this is one of them…last night I spent some time with a few pomegranates while listening to the new Steve Martin / Edie Brickell CD (highly recommended if you like blue grass) and felt much calmer afterwards…and I ended up with a cache to sprinkle on my morning granola and toss into salads.
I have heard about methods for getting the fruit out easily: dissect under water or cut them in half / score the rind & then pound the rind with a wooden spoon while over a bowl. But I don’t mind taking the time to do it the hard way.
A little out of season but here’s an amazing winter salad that involves pomegranates. Thinly slice one or two fennel bulbs, after trimming off the leafy ends, removing the core and the outer skin (I use a mandolin for the slicing), add a thinly sliced Granny Smith apple (again, remove the core) and then toss in a salad bowl with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and a handful of pomegranate seeds. Easy, easy, easy and big on the “wow” factor (more on that factor later).
And to the mythology: the ancient Greeks believed that our seasons change because Demetre’s daughter Persephone was taken to the underworld and tricked into eating six pomegranate seeds. Which meant that she had to stay in the underworld six months of the year which is when we have winter…I think this a lovely explanation for the seasons…