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Pomegranates (Split from Mutton/lamb; Goat/kid thread

Where do you get the idea that pomegranates were "virtually unknown in the U.S. ten years ago"? Pomegranates have been widely available -- at least in California -- for as long as I can remember (over 40 years). What's trendy is pomegranate juice ... probably because it's this year's (or maybe last year's, because Goji seems to be coming on strong) "it's high in antioxidants so lets make whole product lines out of it and promote them like crazy" fruit, following path blazed by cranberries, blueberries, etc.

Heck, pomegranates are in Greek mythology, which firmly roots them in Western culture for thousands of years.

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  1. Agreed! I had pomeganates regularly when I was a kid 25+ years ago. (in Massachusetts) POM pomegranate juice hit the market 2 or 3 years ago with a marketing campaign that it was good for you... and suddenly restaurants and bars have special Pomegranate martinis, Pomaritas, Pom-mojitos, and other such mixed drinks.

    Also, we eat goat several times a month in my household. My husband introduced it into my diet. We prepare roasted goat legs much the way we would make a leg of lamb... and also goat curries.

    1. Ruth.... I helped start up that trendy pomegranate juice company. The parent company, which I also worked for, has about 80% of the pomegranate acreage in the country... and they just started planting pomegranates in the early 90's.

      Sales of pomegranate & pomegranate related products have grown astronomically since then. I do not exaggerate when I say that the sales reps had to bring pomegranates with them... because very few Produce Managers actually knew what they were.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        Well, as I said, I know they have been available where I live (SF Bay Area) as long as I can remember, although they used to be more seasonal than they are now. Perhaps when you said they were "virtually unknown in the US" you meant parts of the US outside of California and other major urban areas.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I meant that according to our own market research, even in California less than 1% population knew what a pomegranate was. You should have witnessed our first few focus groups :)

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            I'm not sure that "people hadn't heard of them" is semantically the same as "they were unheard of" -- the fact is that pomegranates were readily available in stores; distributors distributed them and customers bought them, otherwise, they wouldn't have been in stores. If you wanted to buy a pomegranate, you could do so, easily, at least in season.

            The fact that 99 percent of people are ignorant (not only have they never seen a pomagranate but never read basic Greek mythology) is not really news to me.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Everyone I knew in the central Valley of California in the 50s and 60s knew about pomegranites. It was the first fruit I ever planted, right in front of the rabbit hutches. It produced for years. And there was always high demand for the fruit.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I am not saying there wasn't any pomegranates... honestly pomegranates in Alta California date back to the 1700's when the first expeditions were launched from Baja California where they had taken root early in the century.

                All I am saying is that production of Pomegranates was absolutely minisicule until Roll International got into the game (having bought lands with trees from an Armenian farmer)... the owners were about to get them hacked until they heard about some medical research going on in Israel that is when they decided to keep them & expand.

                I am not saying they were unheard of...just virtually unheard of (to the vast majority of people in this country).

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  Gotta agree. I can date a particular meal I was preparing in September
                  2000. I needed some pomegranate molasses. I live in in San Francisco,
                  which is not exactly the far provinces when it comes to finding
                  semi-nonstandard ingredients. I had a huge hassle tracking some
                  down (evenually found in an arabic grocery store in Oakland).
                  These days, every little corner store has some on their shelves.

                  There's definitely been a renaissance. Sure we all knew what they
                  were. And you could find a sad-looking one or two in the Safeway
                  produce section. But something changed.

                  Further evidence of the rooting of pomegranites in western culture:
                  The city of Granada in Spain was named for the fruit, which the
                  Moors found growing there.

              2. re: Eat_Nopal

                As a kid in the 60's in northern NY state pomegranates were a treat I looked forward to every winter. Your focus group was highly under educated.

            2. re: Eat_Nopal

              I grew up in Wyoming. In the early 50's pomegrantes were available in the fall.

            3. i've been eating them on the west coast since the
              70's but we always called them "Chinese Apples"

              3 Replies
              1. re: howund09

                I first ate a pomegranate in the winter of 1968, on the subway in NYC at about midnight. My friend and I were hurtling toward Brooklyn, alone in the train car, when a group of three or four young punk kids--greased-up hair, tight pegged jeans, black leather jackets, high black boots with buckles, very menacing looking guys--got in the car with us. One of them pulled a pomegranate out of his jacket and cracked it open. I was dying of curiosity and whispered to my friend, "I'm going to ask him what that is."

                My friend was aghast. "Don't say one word to that gang-banger!" he hissed back at me.

                "I will," said I, and did: "What's that thing you're eating?"

                The kid snarled, "It's a Chinese apple. What's it to you?"

                "Nothing, I just wondered. Can I taste it?" He handed me a little section. Heaven! "Where'd you get it? I want one!"

                "I got two, I'll sell you one for a dollar."

                One of his companions gouged him with an elbow. "You didn't buy it, you stole it! GIVE it to the lady!"

                He reached in his jacket, hauled out the second one, and handed it over.

                So much for the gangland gourmet.

                1. re: cristina

                  Beautiful, beautiful story, cristina! Did you go out with the guy?

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Oh my god, no! What a riot...that kid was about 15--I was a good 15 years older than he.

              2. I'm 48-years-old, and I ate pomegranates as a kid growing up in Montreal. They were most readily available in late summer/early fall, imported just in time for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Pomegranates are eaten traditionally during the Jewish High Holidays.

                Here's why (from the hashama.org website):

                "Pomegranates

                One takes a piece of this fruit (watch out - pomegranate juice stains in the worst way!) and says, "May it be Your will that our merits be numerous as (the seeds of) the pomegranate."

                What's the deal? There are 613 commandments in the Torah for a Jew to fulfill. An individual pomegranate supposedly has 613 seeds. (Try counting them.... I did once, and though we lost exact count, there were more than 600 and less and 625 seeds - so it was awfully close!) By eating the pomegranate, we figuratively show our desire and hope to fulfill all 613 commandments, and by doing so, we will be able to accrue a nice amount of merit."

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