Despite the fact that this fruit was and still is widely used in Turkish cuisine, pomegranate did not used to be grown commercially when I was a child. In season one would find it at bazaars and green grocers, brought in by local farmers and gardeners as a delicacy.
Pomegranate belongs to the family Punicaceae which includes only one genus and two species, the little-known other one being native to the archipelago of four islands called Socotra in the Indian Ocean.
The red fruit is about 12 cm in diameter and it has a rounded hexagonal shape. After the peel is scored with a knife all around, the pomegranate can be broken open. The white membranes separating the chambers are peeled off and the seeds are taken out of the indentations in the fleshy interior of the skin. They can be placed in a bowl and eaten with a spoon. The edible part is the sarcotesta, which is a type of testa, the protective hard and juicy outer layer of the seeds. Some people swallow the seed but it is better to eat the juicy testa and spit out the seeds. The number of seeds in a pomegranate may vary from 200 to about 1400 seeds.
An old folk riddle goes, ‘when I bought it at the bazaar I had one, when I brought it home I had a thousand.’
The name pomegranate derives from Medieval Latin pōmum -‘apple’ and grānātum -‘seeded’. This has influenced the cognate common names for pomegranate in many western languages. In Turkish and Bulgarian the fruit is exceptionally named nar. The genus name Punica refers to the Phoenicians who cultivated it widely and perhaps carried it to other realms.
A blossom pressed 18 years ago still keeps its color
When soldiers found a similarity between their shapes, the military grenade rom the French term grenade for pomegranate.
Fortunately, this nutritious fruit has been a symbol of good things in many cultures since ancient times.
A ceramic pomegranate