It’s funny how things come full circle. My mother grew up in Glendale, CA, and when she went halfway across the country for college, my grandmother started sending her California-grown pomegranates in the mail. For four years, the U.S. Post Office carried round, ruby-skinned exotic fruits from California’s sunny climes directly to the frozen tundra of Michigan.
Although I grew up in Minnesota with easy access to pomegranates (not entirely sure how that happened, since it was the 80s, but I’m pretty sure that my mother’s persistence, combined with Byerly’s superb produce stock, had something to do with it), my mother continued the Pomegranate Mail tradition when I was away at college in Michigan. The bulky brown boxes containing nothing but pomegranates confused my roommates and delighted me.
Now my husband and I are the Californians, so we carry on the family tradition and send pomegranates to Minnesota every Christmas.
After sniffing around various grocery stores and farmers’ markets, we found that Sigona’s Farmers Market in the Stanford Shopping Center carried the biggest poms with shiny, unblemished skin.
As a kid, the thing that fascinated me most about pomegranates came from Greek mythology. I thought it was cool that we got our seasonal divisions because Persephone absent-mindedly ate some seeds while taking an off-book vacation in the Underworld. I also thought it was beyond stupid that Persephone was dumb enough to eat the food of the dead, thus sentencing herself to spend half her life as goddess of the Underworld. However, in some versions, Hades is said to have tricked Persephone into eating said seeds, which isn’t hard to imagine given his bald-faced abduction of her. I also liked how Persephone’s enraged mother, Demeter, reacted to the vile kidnapping by shutting down the world in her own personal Amber Alert until Zeus finally got off his Olympic duff and intervened.
(Yes, in various analyses, the pomegranates seeds are really seeds of another sort in which Persephone was partaking, but I was a kid and not interested in that side of things.)
(Well, as long as you can get the little suckers out of their papery prisons — and there are a ton of online videos out there showing you just how to do it. Pom Wonderful also offers grocery store containers of pomegranate seeds with the work already done, but I’ve noticed they can taste a bit fermented.)
Aside from my Lady in Red cocktail, my preferred pomegranate recipe is simply to toss juicy handfuls in my mouth and crunch down.
Enjoy delicious health!