I had a pomegranate on the buffet table for Thanksgiving dinner.
It was there, under the centerpiece, nestled among some acorn squash in my best attempt to channel Martha Stewart.
My husband asked why I bought it, and I had to explain that we always had pomegranates at the holidays when I was growing up, and I was feeling nostalgic at the grocery store.
It was only fitting that my dad was the first one to notice it on the table. He was the purveyor of pomegranates in our house. He picked it up and proceeded to tell me how he had heard of a new method for peeling pomegranates —inside a bowl of water.
I’ve tried this method before and it does work, the juicy arils of the fruit sinking to the bottom of the bowl like rubies. I’ve also seen a new method for peeling a pomegranate (yes, from Martha Stewart) in which the fruit is sliced along its equator, and then each half is tapped on its skin side with the back of a large spoon until the seeds pop out, sort of like performing the Heimlich Maneuver on it with a spoon. I haven’t tried this yet, but probably will just to see if it works and if it is as easy as the underwater peel.
My father’s family came from Lebanon, so our house was often filled with the foods of the Middle East, particularly at the holiday. Figs, dates and pomegranates were typically in the fruit bowl along with the apples and oranges.
It never occurred to me that it was so exotic.
When a friend, not too long ago, asked me how to eat one, I realized the pomegranate was a woman of mystery to some. As my mother recently revealed, “Well, we didn’t eat pomegranates growing up in Pennsylvania.”
Even folks who bought them were more likely to use them in a Christmas centerpiece than on their morning oatmeal.
But lately it seems the whole world is on to this exotic beauty. The pomegranate has become the femme fatale of the fruit world. If it were a candy, it would be the green M&M.
Maybe it’s the way her leathery exterior hides such a sparkly interior that makes her so intriguing. Of course, considering that pomegranates are believed to have been cultivated as early as 800 BC, most of us would probably be a little leathery at 3,000 years old.
Perhaps it’s because she’s just so darn juicy, with tart-sweet pods that eat like nuts surrounded by a burst of fruit juice.
Or truthfully, maybe the pomegranate has just been the recipient of a really aggressive and successful marketing campaign in recent years.
The pomegranate is definitely having its moment. It now has its own month (November), you can buy its juice in bottles at the grocery store and you can even buy a container filled with already-peeled pomegranate arils.
There is pomegranate liqueur, which gave birth to the pomegranate martini and recently pomegranate even was introduced as a flavor of Greek yogurt.
It is good news that this ancient fruit has found new life. Like most dark red and purple foods, it’s considered a super fruit, rich in antioxidants, and high in vitamins C and K, fiber, folate and potassium.
It’s come a long way since its days as just a holiday treat.
Me, I’m just marveling at the fact that for once, my family was actually ahead of the trend.