Oct 3, 2018
When I was young girl we had a pomegranate tree in my backyard. The neighborhood kids and I would pluck off the fruit from the tree and bust it open to find all the little-seeded jewels inside. We would fill up our hands and pop the plump juiced filled seeds into our mouths and let the juice explode, satisfying our thirst and sweet tooth all in one fall swoop. It's an experience that I still get excited about as an adult. I get giddy at the first signs of pomegranates at the farmers' market.
The pomegranate tree is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region of Asia, Africa and Europe. The pomegranate means seeded apple and is derived from medieval Latin. Archaeologists have found carbonized pomegranate exocarps in places such as Jericho from the Early Bronze Age (3000 BC), Cyprus, from the Late Bronze Age, and in Egyptian tombs, including King Tut's. The fruit was highly valued in Ancient Egypt, and were part of the supply of fruits required in a pharaoh's residence (1600 BC). It was revered enough to have been painted on wall and tombs to symbolize life after death. Pomegranate had many uses, including the fruit as food, the juice as a tonic to kill parasites, the blossom was crushed to make a red dye and the peel was used to dye leather.
Solomon's temple in Jerusalem had pomegranates painted on the pillars, you would also find pomegranates decorating the robes of Jewish priests, and in mosaics from ancient Rome. Roman women would wear headdresses created from the twigs of the tree to signify marital status. A symbol of strength in ancient Persia, the army of Xerxes carried spears with pomegranates on the tip when they invaded Greece in 480 BC. Pomegranates were depicted on the walls of the royal palace and fortress Alhambra of Islamic Nasrid Dynasty by the Moors in Spain.
Pomegranate was regarded highly by many over the ages. It was considered one of the three blessed fruits and was celebrated by Buddha. In Greek myths around 500 BC it was told that Hades tempted Persephone with a pomegranate, and when she partook, it bound her to him as pomegranates symbolize the indissolubility of marriage. Around 600 AD Islam's Muhammad had considered the pomegranate to both nutritious for both physical and emotional health. In Christianity, pomegranate is an important symbol, representing Jesus' resurrection. It was also used to symbolize The Virgin Mary because "both are filled with sweetness." In Hindu pomegranate is the symbol of prosperity and fertility and is thought to bring good health. You will often find it featured prominently in Hindu art and find in on several avatars of Ganesha.
I think we can all agree that pomegranate is a succulent fall fruit to be treasured by all. You will find it around the markets into December and January.
1 lb spinach
1/4 red onion, sliced very thin
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts (optional)
1 pomegranate, peeled and seeds separated
4 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
Place spinach in a salad bowl. Top with red onion, walnuts, feta, and sprouts. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top, and drizzle with vinaigrette.
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