The Pomegranate

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The pomegranate is having a moment. This is partly due to its “superfood” status: rammed with antioxidants, it’s a nutrient bomb – as suggested by its French name, “grenade”. It’s also visually arresting, inspiring painters like Henri Matisse, whose Still Life with Pomegranates (1947) can be seen at the Matisse Museum in Nice. Most importantly, it’s the centerpiece of a worldwide rediscovery of Levantine cooking. Ozlem Warren of Ozlem’s Turkish Table, which teaches Turkish cooking in Jordan, the US and the UK, is loving the fruit’s new-found attention. “It’s wonderful, the food of the Sultans,” she says. “Pomegranate molasses is the new balsamic vinegar.” Now this sweet-sour flavor is conquering Western tables, and there’s a growing awareness of pomegranate varietals: from the most popular, simply called Wonderful, to the Russian variety Salavatski. Whichever you choose, they all have that sense of fecund mystery when jewel-like arils spill from their chrysalis-like skin. “We Turks have a saying,” says Ozlem. “ ‘I bought one pomegranate home from market. Now I have a thousand.’ ”