Pomes Away

Someone told me recently that a pomegranate is really an apple bomb. I think that’s correct.

In fact, the dictionary says the pomegranate (punica granatum) comes from the Latin words pomum (apple) and granatus (seeded).

We’ve all seen pome before. Pome is apple. Pome de terre (earth apple) is how the French refer to a potato. Pomodoro (pomo d’oro), or golden apple, is Italian for tomato.

Punica is another word for Phoenician, and if that’s not where the fruit was grown, it was probably a popular place from which to ship it.

Now let’s look at granatus. It means grained or seeded. So at first, pomegranate means seeded apple, which is appropriate. But granum or granatus also gave rise to:

– granite, which is a grained or seeded stone;

– granitas, which is a frozen dessert that looks like seeds;

– grenade, which is a small bomb known for its seed-like explosive contents.

In other words, yes. The seeded apple is also an apple bomb. A pome-grenade.

I think we know the seeds are delicious, but the red is tenacious. We’ve all been advised to handle pomegranates under water or suffer the stain of red fingers.

(In the olden days, there was another delicious way to dye your fingertips. When I was a kid we didn’t grow pistachios in California. The nuts came to us all the way from Persia. They arrived in two preserved varieties: tasty but dyed red; or with shells deep white from excess salt. You could get the best red pistachios at Knott’s Berry Farm. But that was back when you couldn’t get much more there: boysenberry everything, pistachios, gold-panning, a donkey ride, and a tilted house …)

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2 Responses to Pomes Away

  1. Becky says:

    Latin or Greek?

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