This story is dedicated to my forever pomegranate best friend, Jenny.
The one fruit I have always been smitten with is the pomegranate. Not because of its highly sought after nutritional benefits or how it has become a “cool” fruit, but for other deeper reasons.
Flashback. We had one of the few backyards in my Riverside neighborhood with an actively producing pomegranate tree. As fall approached, we young ones anxiously awaited the season of the pomegranate. Fall signaled the dreaded shorter days, but hope was on the horizon. Everyday, I’d inspect the fruit, watching it turn deeper and darker red. When the fruit signaled its ripeness, I would call my friends to come over to share in the harvest. “It’s pomegranate time!” Back then, pomegranates were rarely used as a garnish or addition to a meal. They were purely for the pleasure of eating straight off the tree. It was an annual tradition – an event!
Extracting the fruit was an arduous task that my friends and I found challenging, but more so, entertaining. First, we peeled off the dark, outer leathery skin, then pulled the thin, bitter white membrane away to expose the red seeds. We’d giggle at each other, the red juice squirting all over our faces, hands, and the old clothes our moms made us wear.
The fruit finally torn apart, we stuffed handfuls of the pomegranate into our tiny mouths, crunching through the inner white seeds to extract the tart juice and gorge until we couldn’t eat anymore. It was as if eating the seeds with such abandon and recklessness was our own private ceremony, a time to share secrets. We weren’t trying to figure out which balsamic vinegar to pair with them or how to bake them into a chicken recipe. It was just enjoying the moment in its simplicity, bare and naked.
In my teenage years, I began making pomegranate jelly. (This recipe is from Williams Sonoma and includes apples!) It was a real gourmet treat which I gifted to friends at Christmas. I’ve graduated from jelly to pomegranate martinis, paired with gin or vodka, always a favorite for a Halloween or Christmas cocktail.
Five years ago, I finally planted my very own pomegranate tree and it is definitely the happiest tree in my yard! It grew quickly, now topping 25 feet, its branches dominating a large part of my garden. I let her have her space. Her vibrant, soft, billowy leaves catch the sunlight and remind me of a time of carefree indulgence, stained hands and friendship bonding – over pomegranates.
“Fun fact #1 about pomegranates: Pomegranates are awesome.
Fun fact #2: Pomegranates are like little explosions of awesome in your mouth.
Fun fact #3: A lot of people think you’re not supposed to eat the seeds of a pomegranate – but that’s not true, people who tell you that are liars, and they don’t know anything about life, and they should never be trusted.”
Ciao for now,