Life's joys are present in abundance. An example is the pomegranate that I prepared for dinner recently.
The edible round fruit is a berry, about the size of a small grapefruit, covered with a thick, glossy, red skin. Inside the fruit is a white, spongy pulp that contains many small, edible, shiny arils (red, purple, or white in color). Each aril contains a fibrous, crunchy seed surrounded by a watery, sweet-tart juice. A scant half cup of juice provides about 16% of an adult's daily vitamin C, and is a good source of vitamin B5, potassium, and polyphenols. This ginchy fruit has gotten much attention in recent years, but its past is long and illustrious.
Pomegranates are referenced throughout history. Every part of the plant (root, bark, flowers, fruit, leaves) is used in Ayurvedic medicine. This beauty is evident in the art of the world's painters. China considers the fruit to be an emblem of fertility. In ancient Greece, the pomegranate was central to the explanation of the seasons.
Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and taken to live in the underworld. Demeter, Persephone's mother and the Goddess of the Harvest, mourned her daughter so greatly that all green things in the world died. Zeus ordered Hades to return Persephone because he would not allow our fertile Earth to wither. Ultimately through Hades' trickery, Persephone was consigned to split her time each year between the heavens and the underworld because she consumed several pomegranate seeds. Winter ensues while Demeter despairs the absence of her daughter; warmth and color return to the world when Persephone emerges from Hades' domain.
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Pomegranates figure prominently in our world's religions. Its many seeds symbolize fruitfulness in the Jewish faith. The delicacy, broken open, represents a Christian metaphor for the fullness of Jesus' suffering and resurrection. The Qur'an cites the pomegranate as an example of the good things that God creates. In Hinduism, the fruit symbolizes prosperity and fertility.
I know. I digress. I wanted you to have a sense of perspective about this wondrous creation. None of a pomegranate's delights can be experienced unless you know what to do with one, though.
Open a pomegranate by scoring it with a knife and breaking it apart. Now comes the tricky part, extracting the arils from the pulp. There are several ways to do this:
- Separate the arils in a bowl of water, because they sink and the pulp floats; or
- Freeze the entire fruit, making the arils easier to harvest; or
- Cut the pomegranate in half and score the exterior rind several times. Hold each half over a bowl and smack the rind with a large, heavy spoon. The arils should drop into the bowl, leaving only a few embedded seeds to remove by hand; or
- Pluck each aril by hand as you think about how life is like a pomegranate.
I marveled at the exotic beauty of the exposed fruit when I broke open the pomegranate. Life is beautiful
Multitudes of ruby seeds were clustered together like gems on a stone face, while some were displayed in parched solitude. Like the days of our lives. Days in aggregate become a life, but some awful and some blessed days stand out and spring into the memories that define our journey and purpose.
Most of the arils were easy to loosen from the protective pulp, but some required patience and care to remove. Much of life comes to us uncontrived, but sometimes we have to dig for the goodness that reveals itself when we remove the pith that separates us from uncovered treasure.
The arils tasted both tangy and sweet. Life is studded with bitterness but also perfumed with honey.
Each bite married the crunch of a seed and a burst of juice. Life is more than a juicy indulgence; it's also about the hard textures that require effort to work through, the bits that often fortify our souls.
As I scattered the garnet seeds on emerald salads, I appreciated the interest my small amendments lent to the first course. Beauty is everywhere, to be found in the tiniest of moments.