The pomegranate memory is this: the kitchen counter, Wagon Wheel Lane, where I am seated snugly next to the sink. Uncle Joe is visiting from California, Joe Abood, my Jiddo’s brother. We loved Uncle Joe and though I could not have been more than 6 years old, I remember the lines of his face, and his voice. Perhaps he lifted me up onto the counter so that I could watch him at work with the bright pink globes he’d brought with him from California. Perhaps my mother said, keep her close to the sink so we don’t get pomegranate juice all over the kitchen. Yes, probably.
Uncle Joe’s hands were of the sort a child trusts, old knobby hands that contain knowledge, memory, and other secrets. Deep in the white porcelain sink, he pulled apart the radiant pink pomegranate, which then, 40 years ago, was a real wonder, a mystery, not something any of us picked up at Meijer whenever we wanted. Uncle Joe pulled them from the trees in his own yard, and put them in his suitcase to bring to Michigan, a gift. Because the Lebanese, we most of the time have fruit on our minds.
He worked the well-traveled pomegranate to remove the white membrane and reveal the rubies underneath. Eat, he said. Did Uncle Joe speak much English? I’m not sure. I don’t recall much talking, just a language of hands and fruit and flavor. I followed his lead to see that he didn’t spit out the crunchy seeds, that those were as good for the taking as the tart juice that surrounded them.
So now, when I see the pomegranates being handled with such harshness, cut in half and whacked with a wooden spoon until the little gems fall, stunned, into a bowl? I can’t take it. Pomegranates deserve better. Uncle Joe deserves better.
Core the flower end of the pomegranate at an angle all the way around it, and pull out the plug.
Cut the other end, the stem end, flat across the bottom.
Score the pomegranate along the subtle ridges of each lobe.
Gently pull apart the pomegranate, pulling one lobe away from the fruit. Peel away the white membrane to reveal the plump red seeds beneath. Use your fingers to gently loosen the seeds.
Do this same kind method with the rest of the grateful pomegranate.
Store the precious seeds in the refrigerator in a paper towel-lined container, with another paper towel on top of them, where they will stay nice for you for a couple of weeks.