A hidden pleasure in ex-pat life in Amman, Jordan is the relative ease in which I can sidestep a steroidal Christmas (and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa – the trifecta of Big Business holidays that muscled into my former New York City life every December).
Here there are no TV reruns of Mid-Century classics like Frosty the Snowman or The Christmas Story (sorry, Ralphie); no aggressive toy commercials or maniacal sales pitches on radio. You can get a hit of holiday Muzak in Amman city malls and a few restaurants light up plastic trees. But around here it’s basically business as usual. Until you hit the fruit and vegetable souks, where seasonal cuisine can knock you right back into Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa) Past.
Let’s digress a bit. My Italian-American father was a Marco Polo in the food markets, bringing home odd vegetables that he’d find in the ethnic neighborhoods he traveled through to work. He terrorized my Irish ma with artichokes, manioc, and dandelions – freakish foods to a woman more comfortable around a turnip and some spuds. Nick scoured the stalls for new fruits too, we may have been the first kids in New Jersey to try a pomegranate, which we called Chinese apples. (Don’t ask – I told you this was New Jersey.)
Along with exotic (to NJ) tangerines, pomegranates became symbolic of our Christmas feasts. The ruby-red orb was a perfect match to holiday decorations, but how to access its cache of juice-rich seeds without turning the kitchen into a crime scene? To us kids, peeling a pomegranate was a precursor to the Rubik’s Cube. How to solve this natural riddle without being chased from the house by an angry mother? Yet our Christmas pom tradition endured despite acres of stained tablecloths.
Last year, Green Prophet brought news of an excellent technique to remove seeds in 10 seconds, neatly with a bang-a-spoon technique. It was life-changing. Until I whacked my hand once too often with feverish spoon-wielding, prompting me to look into another method scoffed at by the man in the video: subaquatic seed removal.
YouTube offers several versions, this one will do the trick. It’s clean, quick, and a gentler approach than beat-the-bulb approach. Use the leftover water for your houseplants, or pet’s water bowl – especially if you also live in water-parched Jordan.
Yes, Virginia – there is a Santa Claus. And this Christmas, rejoice that there is also more than one way to peel a pomegranate. Look, ma, no stains!
Image of cut pomegranate from Shutterstock