As a sexy siren, she stimulates serotonin and estrogen. Her mere presence sets you salivating and lets your juices loose.
As a super heroine, she reigns in the hierarchy of fruits and vegetables as a gleaming queen. She delivers a head high kick to those god awful diseases lurking around the human organism. With her reserves of “punicalagin” she pronounces, “Be gone cancer! Be gone heart block! Be gone tumors, osteoporosis, platelet aggregation!”
If the potato and the pomegranate were to look in the mirror and ask, “mirror, mirror on the wall, the pom or the pot, who stands tall?” Undoubtedly, the mirror would curtsy and simper to the pomegranate, “But you, who else my queen?” And to the potato the mirror would say apologetically, “Dude, take a good look. You need to lose that girth a bit before you are in the running.” And the pomegranate would daintily laugh, flashing perfect little ruby teeth. Yes, we know who wears the crown.
Even at the nomenclature level, test “punita granatum” in the cave of your month vs “solanum tuberosum.” “Punita” brings visions of a Caribbean island with a canvas of sunset hues in which dreams and life forces burgeon. And “grantum” sounds like the creator is saying “So be it.”
Now say “potato” and you want to sag to the ground, depleted and defeated by the cholesterol in your body. You want to sit on that couch in your living room starchy-humored and watch reruns of Seinfeld. There’s something about potato that says “You are doomed. Be round and heavy, lead a second best life, never get the girl …”
One is God’s masterpiece created on Day 1 in his divine plan. The pomegranate rind is a Van Gogh canvas. You want to dive into the red and wake up to nights of passion. They grow high up in the air basking in the sun’s glorious light. Cut it open length-wise and a whirl studded with deep set gems greets your vision. Layered in crown, skin, pith, membrane and seeds, it is so masterfully designed as to be Nature’s crowning glory.
The potato is an afterthought on Day 7. The Divine Lord had tossed it all out—the planets, the starry skies and constellations, oceans, vertebrae, non-vertebrae organisms, jewel-toned fish, the diaphanous jelly fish, algae, minerals, the animal kingdom and Adam and Eve frolicking in a verdurous Eden. His glorious creativity spent, he lay on his hammock suspended between Orion and the morning star.
And just as he was about to sink into a cosmic sleep, Adam whined, “we need to eat, the nations need to eat.” God grunted and woke up. And thus began the human inability to be content or grateful. From his grunt, rolled out the potato, thick with God’s annoyance. It slunk off to grow in subterranean depths ashamed to show its plain face.
I am just saying it’s no contest at all.
But have you tried to eat the pomegranate? The work! The torture! There are manuals needed on how to unseed this fruit. When you greedily stuff your mouth with a mound of glistening red—your mouth explodes with juice and seed, a garbage of good and bad.
And all that juice in your mouth subsides into a rocky mess like an excavated pit filled with bones and debris. Your teeth are invaded, chipped and inhabited. You mouth is the site of a ship sink. Flotsam and jetsam, a bloody mess! The panic begins … do you swallow or not, what if you choke, what if the seeds clog the intestines, what if you can’t ever get them out of your body … what if they sneak into pancreatic crevices … what if … what if…
Potatoes—wash, peel and set them on your cutting board—cherubic, good natured minions filled with the intention to serve and make human beings happy.
So compliant, you can do what you want with them. Fries, hash brown, pierogies, roundels, gnocchi, pakodas—a medley of comfort foods. Mash them—paradisiacal puffs of cloud whipped with cream and kale keep you going for a week. Dice them, fry them, serve hot with omelets or bise bele bhath. Grate them—golden hash browns like lace adorn your plate. Salt them, pepper them, ketchup them, bhajji them and serve with fluffy pooris or bhatura. Knead them into kababs, serve with hot rice.
They stop your mind from becoming nebulous. They do exactly what Adam asked for. They feed you and make you happier by a few pounds.
Usha Akella is an internationally known poet. She lives in Austin, Texas. Occasionally she writes whimsical prose.