Growing up in a large Catholic family in a small Pacific Northwest town, there were many things I wasn’t exposed to as a child.
Sex, for one thing (pre-internet days).
Ethnic foods of any kind (unless French Toast counts).
And, to my great dismay, lovely pomegranates. Nary a one in my entire childhood!
In fact, I didn’t discover the incredible wonder of the pomegranate until I visited the far away land of Azerbaijan (recently), a country which boasts an annual pomegranate festival with a Pomegranate King and Queen.
My first exposure there to this luscious dripping red fruit was when my very lovely neighbor handed me a bag of pomegranates as a small house warming gift.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what they were (so unprepared for the world), and I certainly didn’t know how to eat them. Was I supposed to cook them?
Over the first few weeks, I was to discover that every meal in Azerbaijan is replete with pomegranate dishes. Sauces, salads, juices and just as a wedge of fruit to be eaten for dessert. I knew I had to conquer the dilemma of breaking into them correctly, and eating them properly.
Finally, on a weekend visit to a fellow professor’s house in the very heart of pomegranate country, I was taught the secret to cutting them open. First, take a sharp knife and cut around the little tuft on the top so you can pull this piece out like a wine cork.
Next. Find where the rind is thickest and make two slits diagonally along the two opposite sides.
Now you can easily pull apart the two halves to reveal the glistening juicy red seeds within.
WARNING: This is the point where my personal technique for eating pomegranates comes in. This is where you should, in my opinion, if you really want to get the full effect,
let yourself go.
This is a time to revert to your animalistic desires. Don’t be neat and tidy about this next step. This is the time to devour the fruit with abandon and passion.
This might require standing over your sink in the privacy of your own home, away from prying eyes. Certainly not in front of the children!
Break into each half slowly. Expose the fruit. Bend back the rind, and bite into it. Let the juice run down your face. Peel away the delicate inner veil to reveal the moist blood red kernels. Use your tongue, use your fingers, don’t hold back. Like a howler monkey finding the nut inside, peel away, dig in, find that last seed, satisfy your hunger! BE an animal!
When you are at last finished, don’t be ashamed. There is juice all over your face and hands. Maybe on your shirt and on the floor. The countertop is in ruins. It looks like a slaughtered beast.
Catch your breath. Calmly wash your face and hands. Let your heart slow down.
Congratulations! You’ve just eaten a pomegranate the way it was born to be eaten.
So forget those Youtube videos showing you how to neatly cut open a pomegranate, how to release the seeds under water. That’s for sissies!
If you want to enjoy this delectable fruit properly (or improperly, maybe), you need to let your animal desires control you.
They’re in season now, so go and buy one, two, or even three. Keep them in the fridge until you’re alone together.
Power to the Journey