Pomegranate is Wonderful
You haven’t lived if you haven’t eaten Azerbaijani pomegranate, commonly known here as nar. I think it’s possibly one of my favorite features of Azerbaijan. The nar is plentiful. And everyone has nar trees. And it’s a lot easier to say nar than it is to say pomegranate, not to mention typing it.
While I think the POM Wonderful people have a great thing going, they’ve got nothing on Azerbaijani nar. Just the other night, my host dad pulled out a nar fruit, squeezed and massaged it for a few minutes, and just like that there was fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice on the table. Every time we have nar, it’s nearly guaranteed that he’s going to tell us that it’s good for your heart and for your blood, which I think it is (Check here at National Geographic, and here at WebMD. Maybe heart disease and clogged arteries aren’t a problem here in Azerbaijan? I’ll have to look into that). A few details about eating nar here: 1) You eat the seeds, too. At first, I was wary of eating the seeds, but now I find the crunch particularly satisfying, and a whole lot easier than trying to spit them out. They also provide needed fiber. 2) Nar juice is a good chaser for vodka. My host dad insists on it, and the sweet-sour flavor softens up that dry, bitter vodka flavor rather well. 3) Fresh-squeezed nar is good, but it helps to store it with a little salt, to preserve it and bring out its full flavor.
The reason I’m writing about this is that we’re at the end of nar season. It’s colder now, and all the trees have been stripped bare of their luscious nar-fruit. Nar is noticeably absent from the table now. And only on special occasions do we break it out. Oh, nar.