Pomegranate | Nar
Pomegranate is native to Persia (modern day Iran) and the western Himalayas. It and has been cultivated in the Mediterranean for centuries. By the first century AD, pomegranate had migrated as far east as China and Southeast Asia. It is also grown extensively in Korea, Japan, and Latin America, having been introduced there by settlers or traders. It has been widely cultivated throughout India as well as the drier parts of Southeast Asia, the East Indies and tropical Africa. Turkey is the eighth largest pomegranate producer in the world.
The pomegranate is a traditional representation for fertility and prosperity. In many cases, the symbolic value of pomegranate is more important than its culinary status. It was celebrated by the Buddha, and was considered one of the three blessed fruits. The fruit was featured in Egyptian mythology and art, praised in the Bible and in the Babylonian Talmud. It is believed that the beautiful Helen of Troy, with a face that launched 1,000 ships, used the juice of the pomegranate as rouge for her cheeks and lips. In Turkish tradition, pomegranate is given to a bride on her wedding day. The bride then crushes the pomegranate. The number of seeds that fall are said to determine the number of children she will conceive.
In Turkey, pomegranate is eaten fresh, used for its juice and fermented to make pomegranate syrup. Pomegranate seeds are used to decorate in Noah’s Pudding (aşure). The dessert commemorates the food supplies aboard Noah’s Ark with ingredients that include grain, beans, dried fruit, rose water and nuts. Pomegranate seeds are traditionally sprinkled on top of the finished aşure.
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