The humble pomegranate or quả lựu is a bit infamous in the fruit world, having a few tales attached to it - more than your average fruit anyway. The pomegranate is supposedly responsible for us having a winter, and from my point of view that is enough reason to judge it harshly.
So let's wade into it then. According to Greek Mythology, Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter was kidnapped by Hades the ruler of the Underworld. Her mother Demeter refused to let anything grow on Earth while she was there; animals died, people starved, earth was going to hell in a handbasket and Zeus was forced to intervene. He ruled that Persephone could leave the Underworld if she had not eaten anything and so she was reunited with her mother. A snivelling tattle tale of a gardener came forward and dobbed her in. She had sucked on eight pomegranate seeds and was therefore doomed. It was ruled that because of this infraction she would be forced to spend three months of every year in Hades, as a result condemning us to a winter each year. A pox on that gardener I say!
Pomegranate is also credited by some as being responsible for the term Pommy as told by D H Lawrence in his 1923 book Kangaroo: “Pommy is supposed to be short for pomegranate. Pomegranate, pronounced invariably pommygranate, is a near enough rhyme to immigrant, in a naturally rhyming country. Furthermore, immigrants are known in their first months, before their blood ‘thins down’, by their round and ruddy cheeks. So we are told”. Opinions vary on this but it seems a good enough explanation as any, though I am not quite sure what he means by a naturally rhyming country as I have never noticed a predilection for talking in rhyme amongst my countrymen.
This fruit has been on the streets of Hanoi for a few weeks now and I finally got around to stopping the bike and actually buying some. I am very unsure of how to choose a good pomegranate, as my entire experience of them is gleaned from nicking them out of the garden and eating them with my sister behind the back shed. I have very vague recollections of what they looked like, not even sure if they are the same strain as the ones here in Hanoi, but my sis and I felt wickedly sinful with the juice running down our faces, tucking in to this forbidden fruit. Truth be told no one cared about them so there was no need for such skullduggery, but it was fun at the time. No pilfering this time but the fruit selling anh seemed sceptical of my intentions nevertheless, trying his darndest to persuade me that I actually need two kilos in order to be sated. I resisted and bought two pieces instead.
Slicing these open was mildly disappointing as I expected a much deeper red on the inside and the little transluscent pearls were only slightly sweet. Despite this I enjoyed them. Call me crazy but it reminded me of rain bursting on my tongue, not that rain has ever burst on my tongue but a bit of poetic licence never goes astray. You bite into these little jewel-like seeds and they spill out out a very refreshing shower of mildly sweet watery juice. They give a glass of water a run for its money anyway. It's just a shame that winter is not too far off.
Hades Hoa Don
2 pomegranates - 10,000VND (US63c, AUD83c)