pomegranatesIt’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.)

Pomegranates are included on the list of super-foods for their numerous health benefits and their seeds can be enjoyed in so many ways.

(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.)

You can add pomegranate seeds to salads, cocktails, meat sauces, and baked goods. Additionally, Jen Maiser rounded up the pomegranate recipes she found on various blogs last year.

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!

Pomegranates: 50 Years a Family Tradition 3 January,2009Stephanie Lucianovic

  • Denise Lincoln

    When I was a kid, my friends and I would sneak into the neighbors yard to filch some of the abundant pomegranates growing behind their house. They had a family of ducks (I grew up in the country) that would attack us as we tried to crawl behind the bushes. It was only later, when I was a teenager, that the people who lived in the house told me how much fun they would have watching the neighborhood kids get attacked by the birds only to steal a bunch of fruit they would have gladly given us for free. Since then, I always think fondly of pomegranates, but am amazed by how much they cost at the store. How can I pay $3.00 a fruit when it used to only cost me two duck bites?


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for CNN.com, MSNBC.com, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

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