Our friends that visited Poros in late September and October will have probably noticed all the pomegranate trees along the streets of Askeli; full of this beautiful fruit. So colourful and generous. Often our guests come home to the Odyssey with a couple of pomegranates in their hands, given to them by a generous and proud owner of a pomegranate tree along the road.
If you cut pomegranates when they are still fresh and hang them in a small net, they will dry from the outside, but inside they will stay red and juicy all winter. This is probably why it’s considered the fruit of the winter.
This fall I went to the pomegranate festival in the village of Ermioni, on the Peloponnese. There I saw many ideas on how to use this fruit.
In Greece the fruit has such a long history that there is even a myth about it:
Persephone was the beautiful daughter of Dimitra, the goddess of the harvest. One day Persephone was kidnapped by Hades – God of the underworld – to be his wife and queen. Because of her sadness and sorrow from missing the flowers, fruits and light from the upper world Persephone could not eat anything, but Hades came with the most colourful and tempting fruit of all: a pomegranate!
Dimitra was so sad that all the plants of the earth died. The catastrophe was so big that Zeus asked Hades to free Persephone to be with her mother. However Persephone had been tempted by the juicy fruit of the underworld and had eaten six of the pomegranate seeds. So for six months of the year Persephone would be in the underworld, leaving her mother sad and waiting patiently for the other six months where her daughter would come up and make nature flourish and grow again.
Breaking pomegranates for good luck
Throughout history pomegranates have been used as a symbol of the resurrection of nature. In modern Greece we use it for traditional weddings, funerals, and New Year’s celebrations. According to my family’s tradition, my father used to leave the house just before the change of the year. He would wash his face outside, step back into the house with his right leg first and throw a pomegranate on the floor for good luck in the new year. Leaving the floor covered with the red seeds of the fruit, my mother was not so happy that she had to clean the house the next day, but traditions are traditions.
With this recipe you can break your own pomegranates for New Years Eve and decorate your desserts with its seeds! Making 2015 the best year of your life!