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Pomegranate. They are quite popular these days--in salads with rocket and fresh goat's cheese, in stuffings, or as a liqueur, or vinegar.

Pomegranates have been a part of Greek culture ever since the cows came home, depicted in some of the earliest Minoan art on Milos, Crete and Akrotiri (Santorini), including this charming vase with swallows:

Vase with pomegranates & Swallows, Akrotiri

Persephone famously swallowed seven of the ruby red seeds after she was abducted to hell by Hades, forcing her to spending half the year underground. They are mentioned in the Odyssey, growing in the lovely gardens of King Alcinous. Priests at Eleuses wore wreaths made from pomegranate twigs during the mysteries. Often you'll find pomegranate seeds in koliva.

Today in Greece they are a symbol of fertility because of their many seeds, and smashed against the door step on New Year's Day in the hopes that the new year will bring plenty of good things.

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Guy Couturier, ilquorum