True story: When I was a child, I loved to read Greek myths. I think every child goes through the myth stage, when the lure of those stories pull you into a magic world where Gods change into bulls and ride across the sky in golden chariots and make scared ladies turn into trees. They're awesome.
Whenever I read the story of Demeter and Persephone, I always wondered had how stupid Persephone had been. Why would anyone eat the seeds of a fruit? Didn't she know that the seeds are the part you avoid? And who would mistakenly eat four seeds? Maybe one, but four? If she hadn't been so dumb, we could have avoided winter altogether!
Fast forward ten years to a late-night hike with my boyfriend in college. We had hike to the top of a local mountain and had stopped for pictures and a snack. After gulping down some water, he pulled something round and strange-looking out of his bag. "Want some pomegranate?" he asked. I turned to him in wonder, "You mean they're real? Pomegranates actually exist? I always thought they were something mythical, like golden chariots that pull the sun." He laughed at me and broke it open. "Nope. Not make-believe. Real, and kind of a mess to eat." After having my first taste, I realized why Persephone had eaten all of those seeds. Maybe she wasn't so stupid after all.
Fast forward, again, to Baku. I hadn't done much (any) research into the available produce here, and so my first few trips to the grocery store were an exploration into what I can and cannot find here. I was disappointed to find no sweet potatoes, but was surprised to find pomegranates here. Oh, I thought to myself, don't they grow in warmer places?
Little did I realize that I had moved into pomegranate country. About half of the businesses have some sort of pomegranate motif worked into their signs and one mobile network is just named nar, or pomegranate. Bizim, one of the local supermarkets, dots the 'i's in its name with little pomegranates.
While at the embassy for Sophia's four year-old checkup, I noticed something growing on the trees surrounding the parking lot. When I looked closer I realized that all of the trees were growing little pomegranates. And every time you get eggplant appetizers or french fries at the restaurants around here, pomegranates are sprinkled over them.
At the height of pomegranate season this fall, they were selling for sixty cents a pound and so I bought a lot of pomegranates for eating. After all, when pomegranates cost less than pears, wouldn't you eat pomegranates too? I didn't think the children would like them - they're a little bitter and have all of those seeds inside that got Persephone into so much trouble - but they all love pomegranates. After I've broken the pomegranate apart to pick the arils out, Edwin will sometimes snatch a section and chomp the seeds straight out of the rind, corncob-style. Joseph spits out grapes and oranges, but begins demanding loudly as soon as he sees me crack open a bright-red pomegranate.
So one evening a few weeks ago while I was in the depths of Marine Ball dress alterations, I had Kathleen and Sophia fry some eggs and pour cereal for dinner. And to assuage my nutrition-conscience, I cracked open a pomegranate. Then I left the children to go do something upstairs (I would like to say it was important, but it wasn't). While reading what all of my friends were up to, I heard Sophia noisily climbing up the stairs. Half a flight down, she started yelling. "Mom! mooom! Edwin has a pomegranate seed stuck up his nose!! Come help! We can't get it out!!"
I mentally smacked myself for leaving my children alone with something dangerous... like a pomegranate... and headed downstairs to assess the situation.
"Lean back," I instructed Edwin once I got to the kitchen. He obliged, and I looked. I couldn't see a thing. I turned to the girls, quickly losing my calm. "Now tell me what happened. Who stuck the aril in Edwin's nose?" Sophia, the forthright one, looked guilty. "I did."
I rounded on her, "And why did you think it was a good idea to stick a pomegranate seed up your brother's nose??!!"
Starting to cry, Sophia managed to choke out, "K-k-kathleen put one up my nose and it-it-it tickled and I b-b-blew it out. It was f-f-funny, so I d-d-did it to Edwin," before completely breaking down in screaming sobs.
I took in the three children sitting amid the wreckage of their dinner and put on my deepest, most forceful Mom Voice. "There is a new rule in the house. If you break this rule, you will be in trouble. So listen carefully. No putting pomegranate seeds up your nose. No putting pomegranate seeds up your brother's nose. No putting pomegranate seeds up you sister's nose. No pomegranate seeds up anyone's nose. POMEGRANATES ONLY GO IN YOUR MOUTHS. DO YOU UNDERSTAND??!"
Then I called Brandon.
We decided to attempt a home removal before seeking professional help.
After consulting with Brandon, I attempted to fish the aril out using a hairpin with no luck. I tried to flush it out with a bulb syringe and water and only succeeded in making Edwin cry a lot. After a few more hairpin and water attempts I gave up. Everyone went to their rooms with a book and I retreated to my sewing to wait for backup.
Brandon came home, and we went at Edwin again with a flashlight and hairpin. Still no luck. The aril was lodged so high that, even with a flashlight, nothing could be seen of it. After half an hour of prodding and crying and prodding some more, we gave up. If it didn't come out in the morning, we'd see what the embassy doctor could do. Edwin was happy to go to sleep with a pomegranate seed in his nose if it meant he could avoid any more hairpins up his nose.
The next morning we inspected his nose, and found the pomegranate seed in full sight, waiting to be pulled out with a pair of tweezers. It came out beautifully, and Edwin was saved a trip to the doctor. Everyone was happy.
So next time you have feed pomegranate to children, watch them carefully. Those seeds can be very tricky to get out.