an aphrodisiac with a powerful history
by Amy Reiley
A prominent player in aphrodisiac lore, pomegranate was regaled as a culinary symbol of Aphrodite by the ancient Greeks. Some say the forbidden fruit of the Bible was not apple at all, but a pomegranate fruit. In other Western lore, the mythological unicorn was tied to a pomegranate tree. Since the early days of the written word, the promise of the pomegranate has made a lasting impression as a sensual symbol, appearing in poetic works of great authors from Homer to Shakespeare.
The fruit is also used frequently as a symbol in Christianity. The whole fruit is symbol of hope and eternal life. The seeds serve as a symbol of the Church and its many believers. Pomegranate brings a swatch of crimson color to many depictions of the Madonna and Christ, (including the famed portrait by Botticelli).
In the Orient, pomegranate has been used for generations to treat depression, settle sore stomachs and neutralize internal parasites.
Rich in vitamin C, pomegranate juice makes a delicious break from orange juice for anyone under the weather. It has also been used successfully in South East Asia to treat bronchitis and gastrointestinal ills.
Pomegranate is a noted source for three different antioxidants and is considered one of the finest culinary sources of all three. For gourmands looking for an anti-aging boost, the ubiquitous juice company, Pom, now offers tempting pomegranate teas.
Although it is the stunning red seeds of the pomegranate tree that are held in regard as aphrodisiac, the plant’s roots also have medicinal use in treating fever as well as in wound care. (Please note that pomegranate bark used medicinally should only be administered by a professional. In too large a dose, the tree’s bark and roots can be toxic).
The ruby jewels of the Middle East, pomegranate fruit can be served in a multitude of ways from cocktails to desserts. Splash pomegranate juice in your drink for a pretty-in-pink Shirley Temple or pop pomegranate seeds into Champagne for a simple Christmas cocktail. Toss the crimson kernels with fennel and balsamic for a simple, Holiday salad or make a pomegranate juice syrup for dressing up pancakes.
To deseed pomegranates, score the rind in several places and soak the fruit in a bowl of water. Then rip the flesh apart with your fingers and loosen the membranes, freeing the seeds into the bowl. Alternatively, break off a section of the whole, ripe fruit and tap the rind side with a spoon, coaxing the seeds to fly loose into an empty bowl. Or, in the true sensualist’s method, spread a pile of newspapers on the coffee table, rip the fruit apart and pop out the seeds with your fingers while watching romantic comedies from your Netflix list.
Gustavus Hindman Miller. 10,000 Dreams Interpreted: An Illustrated Guide to Unlocking the Secrets of Your Dreamlife. Element Books, 1998.
Marilyn Ekdahl Raviez. Erotic Cuisine: A Natural History of Aphrodisiac Cookery . Xlibris, 2000.
Nancy L. Nickel. Nature’s Aphrodisiacs. Crossing Press, 2001.