The first time I ate a pomegranate seed I was on a school bus, on the rural back roads of North-Central Nebraska, and Lindsay Wagner was showing off. She was a harmless elementary school social climber because as a fifth grader, she was a year younger than me, she was in the remedial reading class, and she was ridiculous. Her best friend, Sundae, also rode our bus, and they were always bringing toys on the bus and playing elaborate games. One week they brought Barbies even though they were much too old for them, and even more confusingly, the next week, they showed up with a box of Troll dolls, which they used to act out scenarios in different voices. As a sixth grader, I was obviously too mature for that. They annoyed me, and who wouldn’t be annoyed by such desperate arm-flailing, look-at-me stunts? I liked the peace and quiet of the bus ride, but my daydreaming was routinely shattered by shrieking, giggling, and the occasional air-borne Troll doll, with its neon polyester shock of hair.
But one day, Lindsay’s shenanigans did get my attention. She was eating something I had never seen before. On the outside, it looked like a dark red grapefruit, but inside, there were the small tear-drop shaped seeds. The seeds glowed garnet, the juice from them interiors translucent and ready to burst.
“This is a pomegranate,” Lindsay announced. Other bus riders had gathered around her seat. Some turned around to see better.
“You eat it like this.” She plucked a seed from the rind and sucked the juicy pulp, then she spit out the woody, white center of the seed in a paper towel.
“You can try it if you want," Lindsay said as she slowly picked out one pomegranate seed at a time with the edges of her nails, which were polished in baby blue sparkles. As if she were bestowing communion wafers, we waited with palms outstretched.
“You don’t want to eat the seed,” she said. In unison we sucked off the jeweled flesh, and spit out the woody centers, and placed them in Lindsay’s paper towel.
It wasn't until years later I realized Lindsay had it all wrong. Eating the whole pomegranate seed is a delightful study in contrasts. Sure there's the burst of tart juice, but I like it better when it's tempered by the delightful crunch of the white hull. I also think that pomegrante seeds work best with savory dishes, as a garnish on top of a wheel of brie served with ligonberry jam, for instance, or my new favorite lunch dish.
|Fairy Dust aka Homemade Chili Pepper Flakes|
serves 2 - 3
1 - 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 seeds of one large pomegranate
1 small clove of garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
juice of half a lemon
1/8 teaspoon fairy dust, or to taste (a little goes a long way)
1/4 cup finely grated Asiago cheese
Combine chickpeas and pomegranate seeds in a small mixing bowl. Mash clove of garlic with a pinch of salt, using either a mortar and pestle or the flat side of chef knife. Whisk garlic paste with olive oil and lemon juice. Pour over chickpeas and pomegranate seeds. Add remaining ingredients and toss gentle to combine.