When I think about gratitude, I contemplate pomegranates. I discovered this irresistible fruit after my family moved to Santa Barbara when I was 11. At the time, I was devastated that I had to leave my friends and relatives behind in the Chicago area, and was a less-than-willing participant in my fathers dream to go west. Quickly, however, I came to appreciate many things about living in California, not least of which was the exotic fruit growing everywhere. In our garden, we could pick persimmons, guavas, oranges, loquats, and pomegranates. I remember the joy of digging into the pomegranates rough exterior, discovering the tiny jewels of plump red fruit that popped sweet juice on my tongue (and too often on my shirts!).
30 years and 3,000 miles from my succulent discovery, my own children discovered the joy of pomegranates. In the past, when I brought this fruit home from the market around Thanksgiving, the kids werent interested (even when Andrew and I would slice into one and eat the ruby-like seeds, usually perched right over the sink to avoid staining our clothes). This time, Solomon and Celia were intrigued. What was this mysterious fruit? Moments later, I was edged out of my spot at the sink by two children who were now up to their elbows in red juice.
For a moment, pomegranates symbolized the passage of time, from when I was a fifth grader, feeling uprooted and tentative, to my own son and daughter in our home where they have spent their whole lives. They ate something new and unusual, which they would have rejected in years past. But as they have gotten older and become more independent, their tastes have followed suit. They crave culinary adventures, even concocting their own drinks and sauces. With mixed feelings, I recognize this small step forward as a precursor to more far-flung adventures theyll crave in the future. I only hope I have helped them learn to seek out and savor all of lifes flavors, as my dad helped me learn years ago.
The splendor of sharing with my children an ancient fruit that has brought humans great pleasure for centuries, even millennium, makes me catch my breath with the beauty of the here and now, and all the blessings that surround us. For many at Thanksgiving, the turkey, stuffing and cranberries trigger strong personal memories. For me, the pomegranate ignites my imagination.
I hope you and your family have a safe, enriching and delicious holiday. Perhaps youll have a chance to savor something as soul- and palate-pleasing to you as our pomegranate was to us.
Note: I spotted this recipe on the POM Wonderful web site a few years ago, and tinkered with it a bit to make it healthier. You can make the stuffing up to a day ahead and heat it in the oven before dinner.
Which holiday foods transport you back to your childhood?