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Pomegranate: A Global History

The Pomegranate you may say is little more than a fruit, strange though it may be, that plays a prominent role in Middle Eastern cookery. A fruit that had almost disappeared into obscurity, at least in Western diets, over the past decades, until more recent times when cuisine of the finest, most unusual and from all corners of the earth, became something that was written about, created and slaved over by chefs and presented in many forms directly into your living room via modern media.

But there is more to this strange fruit, a fruit which should be treated as royalty in the world of  fruits, as it has been revered by all major religions of the world at some point in their history; it has been found as far back as Neolithic times, when it was deliberately cultivated from the wild. Pomegranate seeds have been found in carbonised form at the Middle Eastern sites of Jericho, Arad and Nimrud and dated archeologically to the start of the third millennium BC.

It has had poetry written to it, been a temptress of the Gods and Goddesses, used in rituals and been placed into history inscribed on wall paintings and wall hangings, silver and pottery vessels are adorned with its likeness, with ornaments worn by Kings and Queens throughout history crafted in its form.

Great masters of their art such as Picasso, Matisse, William Morris and Dali have created woks about and around this glorious fruit, while the Buddha gets offered a single pomegranate by an old beggar woman then uses this gift, freely given, to illustrate the true meaning of sacrifice to a wealthy Maharaja.

So no matter where you look, be it in Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Catholicism or Christianity the pomegranate is there for all to see.

Fertility is another area where the pomegranate features prominently, used by the Gods to tempt and also to illustrate the nature of life and death. The links to fertility are and were extremely strong. It was used as a medicine by the ancient Greeks to help with menstrual problems and considered as a symbol of great sexual ability. Each of the ancient civilisations has a considerable mythology woven around this remarkable fruit.

In today world it is still used in certain cultural celebrations, still considered a god amongst the fruits and is becoming more and more popular for its health benefits and wonderful flavours when added to foods.

As you reach the end of the book you may wonder why someone would have taken the time to research and present a wonderful work, with magnificent illustrations about a fruit, and if so you have completely missed the point.

The pomegranate, as it has meandered down the corridors of history, brings with it a language of its own, telling a tale or two about who we as a civilisation are, where our roots return to, or if you like where all the folkloric, myth and legend that is very much a component of our world came to be created around one simple, in its original form bitter, little fruit with its royal looks and colour.

As one final thought on a subject that is as fascinating as it is remarkable, it is considered by historians that the forbidden fruit referred to in the Garden of Eden, may have been the seductress of all fruits, the Pomegranate, not an apple!

AuthorDamien Stone
PublisherREAKTION BOOKS
Websitehttps://www.newsouthbooks.com.au
DistributorNew South Books
ReleasedMay 2017