Prompted by Sunday Scribblings: Delicious
On the Solstice, Christy, Paul, and I took the dogs and headed out to visit Leah and James. While we were waiting next to the highway with our thumbs out, it started to hail. Moonshadow ran around trying to catch the hailstones as they came down, but Abraxas yelped when they hit him and tried to crawl between my legs. “I hope Leah’s got a big pot of vegetable soup on,” Paul said.
“Yeah, and hot biscuits right out of the oven.” Christy grinned. “I can hardly wait!”
A pickup truck stopped for us, and we rode to Wonder huddled under a tarp in the truck bed. That soup was starting to sound plenty good—even a pot of hot herbal tea would be heaven.
Leah did have soup cooking, but she also had a chicken roasting in the oven. “I stopped being a vegetarian,” she said. She explained that the pregnancy was putting stress on her body and vegetarian food didn’t satisfy her anymore. She’d started craving meat. She even dreamed about it. The rest of us had bean soup and bread, and Leah had chicken along with hers. Paul was playing with his food, trying to not to look at the chicken, but his eyes kept sneaking over to it again and again. I’d never seen him picking at his food before; I’d marveled at the swift blur of his chopsticks and the way the food on his plate disappeared before the rest of us had even gotten to the third bite. It irritated me sometimes, and I wanted to ask him if he thought we were going to move in on him the way dogs do if he didn’t wolf his portion down ahead of everybody else. But then I’d get upset with myself for being such a bitch over something that wasn’t really hurting anyone, so I just kept biting my tongue and holding the words back. This was worse, though. Why was being a vegetarian such a big issue that he sat there in someone else’s house acting like he couldn’t eat when there was meat at the table?
After the meal, Leah brought out a bowl of pomegranates, which have always been special and mystical for me. The Bible mentions them many times; they were one of the wonderful things in the Land of Milk and Honey, the Promised Land. There were pomegranates in ancient Egypt, which was also a land of milk and honey. The air in Egypt was drowsy with bees, and everywhere, goats were being milked. Usually Egypt is described as the land of beer and onions, and it was that, too, but the gooey sweets they ate for dessert were drowning in the strong, sweet honey that is only produced in a hot climate. And pomegranates were dropping off the trees, bursting with ripeness.
Eating a pomegranate is a sacred ritual. The kernels should be eaten delicately, picked out one at a time on exposing the different sections. The pale, waxy covering of each layer of jewel-like kernels resembles honeycomb and should be peeled away with great care, because the pomegranate has a magical, sympathetic connection to the beehives in the land of milk and honey.
I looked up from separating the deep-red kernels and placing one on my tongue. Paul was impatient and went at the pomegranate like an apple, ripping at it with his teeth and trying to bite off a whole layer of kernels at once, unable to slow down enough to appreciate it. Since the cold weather had started, he hadn’t been enjoying his life, either, and I wondered if there was a connection and you could tell whether a person would be happy by watching the way he ate a pomegranate. I turned my attention back to the scarlet layer I had just uncovered, like a shining mass of rubies and the tart sweetness of the next kernel made me shiver. Delicious!