picture from here.
Yesterday, out of curiosity and a genuine desire to consume fruit, I bought and tried to consume a Pomegranate. An odd looking fruit with no clear indication as to how it should be eaten and nursing a paranoia from a disastrous experience from my first week in Architecture school and second week in the US, I was a bit skeptical about my choice of source for vitamin C but it was either buy apples (which I do not quite like), oranges (too sweet and they cannot be peeled like the specie that grows in my home country), pears (only like them when their skins are hard and crunchy) and grapes (which have taken a back seat since I discovered cherries.) All the other fruit were either unripe or I did not quite know what they were. I selected some bananas, three peaches and a pomegranate, paid and went home.
Why was I so cautious about this fruit and why was it so important that I eat it, in other words, conquer my aversion to it? I will have to take you back six years, to the late summer of 2004 when a fresh faced me, began the first week of my collegiate pursuit of an architecture degree and the class was given an assignment to both test our observe-and-record skills as well as the ability to indicate depth of material through shading techniques. Each student was required to select a fruit and make five drawings with five different types of pencil techniques: hatching, pointillism, cross hatching, staining etc. I had never been a strong fine artists but like everyone in class I had to do the project. I selected an orange and went to work.
The project required you to sketch the fruit whole, then take it apart and draw what you saw. So the end result would have been a sketch of a whole orange, half of an orange, the rind of the orange, the squeezed orange with pulp and seed and whatever else you felt you could come up with based on the fruit you had selected. Some classmates opted to let the fruit ripen and rot, thus indicating the different processes of its demise.
In any case, we had two weeks. In architecture school, we would present on Mondays and Fridays with the days in between usually for developing ideas or correcting errors based on a bad critique.
Sunday evening, ninety percent of the class is done. My submission looks as raggedy as the fruit I have subjected to all forms of artistic torture and I am moving around the studio observing other classmates at work and getting to know them. At this point, I know maybe three names in the entire class.
I stop at a classmates desk. He has chosen a pomegranate. I actually stop for two reasons, his drawing skills are waaaaaaaaayyyy above mine and I have never seen the fruit he is drawing before.
I ask, "What is this?"
He looks up a bit puzzled, then realizing it is me, he says "A pomegranate."
I look at the fruit. The skin is hard. It has on its inside, a dense network of seeds that are encased in a transparent skin of liquid, a bit like paw paw (or for Americans, papaya) seeds. It has no discernible fruity smell.
"How do you eat it?" I ask
He answers in a weary tone, as if to say, "why bug me now" and answers "well, you suck on the juice." He points at the seeds.
I look at what he is pointing at and still not understanding, I reach for one of the seeds, pick it up and I am about to say "what do you...", when I press it between my forefinger and thumb and disaster happens. Juice goes spurting everywhere...over his almost complete, impeccable project.
He goes ballistic.
I try to apologise. The class gathers. I am shaking. I know I cannot offer to do the work for him. It is not a model where I can build the frame or anything, it is an art project and that is tanamount to skill. Mine can in no way replicate his.
He is livid and cursing. If I was a guy, I am sure he would have hit me.
I am still apologising as best as I can. I am embarassed because the whole class is reacting like "How could she not know that the seeds have juice that STAIN". Another batch are explaining, "She ain't never seen one before. You know, she African."
So in one swell move, I am a destructive coon from an uncivilised jungle who does not know what anything is and causes trouble. I am sick to my stomach.
He storms off, the rest of the class goes back to what they are doing.
I go home. I am sad and scared. I don't want to be hated for a mistake
So I say a prayer and explain to God that He knows I would not do anything intentional to hurt someone's work. I say that I will try to get to class as early as possible before the professor gets there and that I will explain what has happened and ask that if there are any marks to be subtracted, that it be taken from my grades and not his.
I go to bed worried.
I cannot sleep.
For one reason or another, I am late to studio the next morning. Not seriously late, just enough that the professor has walked in. Immediately, the guy whose work I have ruined presents his case. I hurry over and try to interrupt, apologising and presenting my offer.
The professor listens. Looks at the project and then says, "I would have thought you were trying to use a staining technique to more accurately depict the color of the fruit..."
Then she takes a small sponge, rubs it against the rest of the fruit and begins to press it all over his boards.
Needless to say, I learnt a new technique. No one got punished and no one got marks subtracted. However, I was so scarred by the experience that for six years, I never touched another pomegranate till yesterday.
And even after I brought it home, I went on Youtube to research how it was to be eaten.
I found this
I chose to follow the instructions in the second video.
Did I enjoy it? It was just one very weird fruit. After nearly hurting my cheek bones trying to get out as much juice as possible, i then faced the task of how to get the juice off the seeds without going through the five-week-blender-salad-alternative. I ended up spooning the seeds into a bowl, sucking on the juice and spitting out the seed shaft.
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy too much work