Shocking, but true—some scholars suggest the forbidden fruit instrumental in Eve and Adam’s split from the Garden of Eden was not the apple, but rather the pomegranate! Seasonally germane for cooks looking to give their holiday dishes some zing, the pomegranate may indeed bear some biblical guilt when one considers the pivotal Hebrew word peri in the Old Testament translates into a variety of fleshy seed-bearing fruits aside from the apple. With many fruits potentially implicated, we’ll grant the juicy infamy to the pomegranate, and move on.
Equally juicy is the pomegranate’s recent fame. We extoll its health bennies as an antioxidant (helps prevent some diseases), an anti-inflammatory (reduces eye puffiness the morning after) and as a mega vitamin C purveyor (offers 40 percent of your recommended daily). As well, the gems tarten any savory dish with the perfect tickle, and they’re seasonally pleasing to your holiday palette (and palate). While American culture heralds these qualities, ancient cultures exalt differently. In the Jewish tradition, the pomegranate symbolizes righteousness because it is believed to have as many arils (fleshy seeds) as commandments in the Torah—613! Housewarming gifts in Greece? Predominately pomegranates, which are symbolic of abundance, fertility and good luck. Memorialized in many paintings, including Sandro Botticelli’s 1487 “Madonna of the Pomegranate,” the fruit is also celebrated in Tehran at the annual Pomegranate Festival. And in some Hindu traditions, the seedy fruit symbolizes prosperity.
Yes, there are countless ways the leathery-skinned, akin-to-a-Christmas-ornament pomegranate is celebrated, but let’s just rejoice that this real jewel of a fruit can be sourced far and wide, depending on the season, thanks to cultivation beyond its ancient origins—from the regions of modern-day Iran to northern India—and offer some culinary ways to enjoy a holiday evening with the bold rubies. Continue reading