The pomegranate is one of the oldest fruits in history, a symbol of the forbidden. Its lovely little red membranes number 840 to be exact, and each contains a precious seed, used in certain culinary traditions to flavor meat dishes. The French named their clever weapon, the grenade, after the pomegranate, due to its seed scattering properties. Egyptians buried their dead alongside pomegranates; a fruit believed to represent a bounty of eternal life. Best of all is an old custom practiced by Berber women to determine the number of kin their future holds. Thankfully, this practice can be imitated in 2006 and it bears as much truth now as it did centuries ago.
All you need is sidewalk chalk and an exceptionally ripe pomegranate. Unless you have some insight into male pregnancy in the 21st century, I suggest that you have lady parts as well.
Step out on to the sidewalk, preferably one with minimal pedestrian traffic. Draw a circle around your feet with the chalk. Step out of the circle and hold the pomegranate in front of you, high above the circle. Drop it. Assuming that it breaks, (nothing in this life is guaranteed), count the number of seeds that reside outside of the circle. This represents the number of children you will birth.
When I first attempted this Berber ritual, I hoped that two sweet little seeds would roll outside of my circle, in two different directions, assuring me that yes, I would have a girl and a boy, just as I had imagined. Instead, the fruit smashed against the pavement and split in two, seeds flying in every direction, 26 of which landed outside of my circle, four of which were smashed. Then, as I stood back in shock of what my future held, I stepped on four seeds, crushing my own children. The stone beneath me was stained red and I collapsed, smothering the rest of the litter. Since that day, I have avoided intercourse, fearful that my fate is one of sadness and loss. Maybe you’ll have better luck.
Pomegranate Pork Chops Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 thick cut pork chops
1 small red onion, diced
1 bulb fennel, diced
1 apple, diced
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 pomegranate, seeds painstakingly removed from the rind
A handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
8 mint leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sear the pork chops on both sides, until they develop a golden brown color. If they don’t all fit in the pan, sear them two at a time and transfer them to a cooling rack. Then, place them in a baking dish and into the oven. Pour the oil off of the frying pan and place it back on the stove over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, and apple, and sauté for five minutes. Add the vinegar and let reduce for a minute. Then add the honey, walnuts and pomegranate seeds and give it a toss. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and add the mint. Check on the pork chops. They shouldn’t take more than ten minutes. Cut into them to make sure that they’re cooked through (no pink). Place a large spoonful of the pomegranate chutney on top of each pork chop and serve.