a bit about sumac & pomegranate
There are two different types of sumac bushes, one which is poisonous with white berries, and the other, a culinary favorite that produces bright red berries. After being picked, dried and ground, sumac can be used to create a more complex flavor profile.
The name sumac comes from the Aramaic word summaq which means “dark red.” Origins of the spice can be traced back 2,000 years to the Roman Emperor Nero’s physician who praised its medicinal properties for stomach issues. Sumac grows in
areas of the Mediterranea, Iran and Turkey. Its taste is similar to lemon but without the sourness. It is one of the foundational spices found in za’atar.
You can make za’atar by mixing 2 tablespoons ground sumac, with 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon thyme, oregano and ½ teaspoon ground cumin with a pinch of salt.
Pomegranates have a 4,000 year history in almost every part of the world. Its bright red shape looks like an apple, and contains jewel-like seeds called arils on the interior. The arils are the part which is edible and can be eaten alone or juiced. In recent history their popularity has increased due to health properties. Pomegranates contain high amounts of Vitamin C and potassium, along with a variety of antioxidants not found at the same levels in other fruits.
Not only known and used for its edible qualities but also symbolic meanings of happiness and fertility. During the Persian wedding ceremony, a basket of pomegranates is placed on the ceremonial cloth to symbolize a joyous future.
In Turkey, after the marriage ceremony, the bride throws a pomegranate on the ground. The number of arils that fall out are believed to indicate how many children she will have.
In Crete, when a bride enters her new home, the groom hands her a pomegranate. In China, a picture of a ripe, open pomegranate is a popular wedding present, expressing the wish, “May you have as many children as there are seeds!” (Pomegranates.org)