If we go back in time and get hold of the “Natural History” by Gaius Plinius Secundus, better known as Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), Chapter XIII chapter, lines 112-113, we will find a reference to a “Punic grenade” or the apple of Carthage.

And it is exactly the area around Carthage that stakes its claim, as suggested by the name, on the “Punic apple”, later called pomegranate. Pomegranate comes in several varieties: “apirena” or seedless, is the one without the wooden kernel, light peel, with sweeter grains separated by less bitter membranes. The structure of the pomegranate reminds of the honeycombs, with the grains within an unpeculiar pulp. Pomegranates are divided into five types, according to their taste: sweet, sour, bitter-sweet, sour, winey.


The name “pomegranate” comes from the Latin “malum” (apple) and “granatum” (seeds). And this derivation is also present in other languages, such as in English “Pomegranate”, and in German “Granatapfel” (apple with seeds). Or in the case of Old English, where it was known as the “apple of Grenada”. In facts, the Spanish city of Granada has a pomegranate in its coat of arms, since in Spanish and old French the words “granada” and “grenade” mean pomegranate.

But let’s put aside the etymology for a moment, to get back to our Pliny and his History of nature. The author reckoned that the pomegranates got to Rome from Tunisia. In fact, the name “Punic” is derived from the Roman name of the geographic region of Tunisia and the coastal population of the same name, also called the Carthaginian. The “Punic apple”, was for him the apple of Carthage. Pliny claimed that the best fruits – as they already existed in the Italian territory – came from Carthage. Although today we know that our dear fruit comes from western Asia, we like to take it for a walk (or let it carry us around!) through the history, the tradition, the myths, the legends that have blossomed around this fruit.

Photo credits: Fulvio Spada 


Pomegranates for every day

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