Pomegranates

4 February 2009

Live fruit, dead tree.

The symbol of Granada is the fruit of the same name, the pomegranate, la granada, from which comes the liquor grenadino. Ensalada granada, a specialty of the city, is made with pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and a bitter four-leafed green, and I ate it for the first time the day before la Nochevieja, when I was there with my family, and ate as well pork in mozárabe sauce, thick & medieval, made with raisins & sesame seeds, and tortilla sacromonte, named after the famous clifftop barrio where gypsys live in swank caves and flamenco shows are filled to bursting with busloads of tourists; the tortilla is made with red peppers, sweetbreads, & brain.

Granada was the last Moorish kingdom in Al-Andalus to fall; the Alhambra, that red palace built upon ruins of itself, Romans entombed in the mountains, poetry inscribed in loops on the walls and ceilings, endlessly proclaiming the glory of God, was surrendered to the Reyes Cathólicos on the 2nd of January, 1492 by Boabdil, the boy king, who is reported to have wept upon leaving the city as his world fell down around him.

“Boabdil was a crybaby,” said an old, parchment-white man in a cream suit to me in English, in Boston, in the Central Sq. station on the Red Line, two months before I knew I’d be in Andalucía. He was blind; he stared at a point above my left shoulder, spoke in a dry, precise Castillan accent. “His uncle despised him.”

And indeed, popular legend has Boabdil’s mother rebuking him on the hill above his surrendered city, a refrain as apocryphal as the Spartan mother reported in Plutarch: “No llores como una mujer lo que no supiste defender como un hombre.” Don’t cry like a woman for what you didn’t know how to defend like a man.

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6 Responses to “Pomegranates”

  1. Buster Says:

    …made with pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and a bitter four-leafed green, and I ate it for the first time the day before la Nochevieja, when I was there with my family, and ate as well pork in mozárabe sauce, thick & medieval, made with raisins & sesame seeds, and tortilla sacromonte, named after the famous clifftop barrio where gypsys live in swank caves and flamenco shows are filled to bursting with busloads of tourists; the tortilla is made with red peppers, sweetbreads, & brain.

    Look, I already wanted to go to Spain. Now it seems simply irresistible. These seductive gastronomical portraits are a horrible reminder, alas, of how empty my wallet is.

    But thanks for the dream fodder.

  2. notsorandomencounters Says:

    Oh pomegranates are delicious! Ana had me try one a while ago and I discovered very quickly how nigh impossible it is to eat one gracefully 🙂 I don’t know much about Spanish history but the Moorish era seems really interesting, I’ll have to look into it.
    -Amanda

  3. Jim Sligh Says:

    Buster,

    Gastronomy like this only happens when family’s in town; I empathize with the empty wallet. I haven’t ordered off of a menu in Spain since Christmas, and before then it’d been months. (That said, the tapas come free with the cañas in Jaén).

    The brains & thymus glands were good – a little wet for an egg tortilla – and bull’s tail (rabo de toro), not mentioned here, is excellent as well.

    Americans are considered eccentric when they want to eat paella for dinner.

  4. ritadavis Says:

    I may be mixing my mythological metaphors here, but now that you’ve eaten that pomegranate I fear that you will be stuck in Granada forever….except in the springtime, when you will be freed to frolick in the fields as you please.

    But then, inevitably, you will have to go back, and all because of a few bright redpurple fruit seeds.

    I’ve always thought of them as a sinister sort of fruit, really.

  5. Jim Sligh Says:

    Rita,

    If my copy of Calasso’s The Marriage of Cadmus & Harmony weren’t back in the States, I’d be cleverer right now.

    At any rate, having eaten pomegranates, it may well be the case that I’m only Stateside in the summers for the foreseable future.

    Blame me for snowstorms.

    ps. – Email me your mailing address, I’ve got a letter to you sitting on my desk.

  6. Jim Sligh Says:

    . . . I discovered very quickly how nigh impossible it is to eat one gracefully.

    Amanda, one of the wordpress-generated links below the post is even “How to Open a Pomegranate Without Making a Mess”. You have no excuse.

    A certain version of Spanish history is incurably romanticized, & for that many people (see: English Romantic poets) love it.


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