31 May2008

A Great Date…

by Marketman

date3

Luscious, intense, sweet, and relatively economical if you limit yourself to just one or two at a time. Medjool dates are one of several varieties of dates, the fruit of a date palm, that are considered to be amongst the more desirable. These particular dates were harvested not in the Middle East, where date discussions can go on and on and on, but on a farm in California, USA. Friends of ours returned from a trip recently and sent two boxes of these wonderful dates as pasalubongs. Yum. Date palms are believed to have originated in the oases of the Middle East. I can just picture a parched and starving traveler stumbling upon an oasis where there was water but nothing else to eat. In desperation, he spied his camel moseying on over to a bunch of wrinkled up fruits that had fallen from the nearby date palms and started munching on the the semi-dried fruits. The bedouin had a taste of one, and not hallucinating, he realized they were nearly as sweet as a jellied fruit from the La Maison du Chocolat branch that opened on the main strip of desertville some three thousand years ago…hahaha. Seriously, a good date is hard to find, and a blessing to receive. We eat them as is.

date2

According to my Encyclopedia of Foods given to me years ago by a friend, and staff member of the Dole Company, Medjool dates are originally from Morocco, but a precious few plantations in Southern California also grow the esteemed date. I once spent several weeks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia consulting for a bank owned by a very prominent Saud prince, and just below our offices was one of the most stunning date shops I have ever seen. i don’t recall it’s name now, but I do recall that it had several dozen different varieties of dates on offer, and they were wrapped in boxes as though they were little bits of gold… everything I tasted at that shop was delicious. Now I just have to think of several ways to enjoy these Medjool dates, either chopped and added to my homemade granola together with some good yoghurt, or as part of a tagine, or even in a sinfully rich Food for the Gods (aka Date and Walnut Bars), but it seems a waste to bake with such luscious morsels!

date1

 

COMMENTS:

  1. GayeN says:

    Hi MM! I love dates! I’m contented eating just the fruit. =D My cousin always brings home a pack (can’t remember the brand though) whenever he comes home for a vacation, he works in Saudi.

    I first tasted them when my dad brought home a pack, he also worked in KSA. My mom planted some seeds in our front yard. It didn’t bear any fruit though but my mom didn’t cut it. Looks good anyway esp. during Christmas when we put lights on the fronds.

    May 31, 2008 | 7:25 am

     
  2. linda says:

    The Medjool dates we get here in Oz are from Israel and look smoother than the photo above.They are expensive,but a real treat to eat on it’s own. We use the cheaper dates when we make sticky date pudding.

    Have a great weekend!

    May 31, 2008 | 7:26 am

     
  3. Roberto Vicencio says:

    In 2004, I was attending my final English class, Asian literature. One of the poems was about Dates:

    We grow to the sound of the wind
    Playing his flutes in our hair.
    Palm tree daughters,
    Brown flesh Bedouin,
    Fed with light
    By our gold father.

    We are loved of the free-tented,
    The sons of space, the hall-forgetters,
    The wide-handed, the bright-sworded
    Masters of horse.
    Who has rested in the shade of our palms
    Shall hear us murmur ever above his sleep.

    When this was discussed, I gathered that most of my classmates have gone on, but never eaten, a date. I was able to find a couple of boxes of them and was able to share it with them. That act alone got me an A. Let’s here it for the date.

    May 31, 2008 | 7:51 am

     
  4. mia says:

    I like stuffing them with pistachios :)

    May 31, 2008 | 7:59 am

     
  5. Apicio says:

    An article I came across somewhere attributed the first IUDs were actually date pits introduced into camel cows to prevent them from getting pregnant and out of commission. So your scenario for the day they discovered dates is provably right on.

    May 31, 2008 | 8:14 am

     
  6. wil-b cariaga says:

    I am not too much of a fan of raisins and prunes, and i thought dates would taste the same, we had tons of boxes in the dry store at work before, and it was near its best before date, so we have to do recipes with dates. . . I had to try one. . .I didn’t know it was really good, so after that i was eating heaps of it. . . hehe yummmm. . .

    May 31, 2008 | 8:38 am

     
  7. the husband says:

    This is my mom’s favorite. I remember when my dad used to work in Libya, and every three months would come home for a month’s stay and would have dates, among other things, for my mom. Any good purveyor of dates out there? ;)

    May 31, 2008 | 8:57 am

     
  8. fg says:

    i’ve had these stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped with prosciutto and baked just enough for the ham to crisp and the cheese to melt…yummy!

    May 31, 2008 | 8:58 am

     
  9. Maria Clara says:

    Fresh matured dates are the best! Susan Goin the author of Lucques Cookbook and owner of the Lucques restaurant obviously has great fondness with dates. Fresh dates are on the cover of her cookbook and dates entr̩e from appetizer to dessert are on offer at her restaurant all year round. Fresh or dried ones are great addition to cheese tray. I agree with fg Рthey are great pitted and stuffed the cavity with cubed parmigiano reggiano or queso de bola wrapped in bacon or omit the cheese and just wrap them with bacon and throw in preheated 350 oven for 10 minutes if goat cheese is not your liking..

    May 31, 2008 | 9:23 am

     
  10. Ray says:

    Hey,

    A simple recipe for dates is ‘Datiles con Tocino’ dates wrapped in bacon. It is straightforward and it would amuse anyone’s palette.

    May 31, 2008 | 10:07 am

     
  11. Denise says:

    Hey MM! We also just got a packet of dates, from KSA though, sent by my dad…packed solid in honey, eaten just the way it is

    May 31, 2008 | 10:15 am

     
  12. chunky says:

    APPETIZERS, MM! slice pitted date, insert your favorite nut (almond or walnut, my preference), wrap in bacon (in your case, probably prosciutto) and warm till heated through in the oven. yum,yum,yum…

    May 31, 2008 | 10:58 am

     
  13. luyanghapon says:

    APPETIZERS, MM! slice pitted date, insert your favorite nut (almond or walnut, my preference), wrap in bacon (in your case, probably prosciutto) and warm till heated through in the oven. yum,yum,yum…

    May 31, 2008 | 10:58 am

     
  14. Gilda says:

    I use dates whenever the recipe calls for raisins, such as oatmeal cookies. Yum!

    May 31, 2008 | 12:31 pm

     
  15. Sam says:

    MM,

    How about date shakes? I used to stop by the Date Shake Shack on the Pacific Coast Highway,on Crystal Cove north of Laguna Beach. It was a tiny shack with just enough room to drive in, and spare sitting area on the cliff side where one could sip and enjoy the view without roof lines! It was a great summer treat! I guess it was so good that a chain bought the stand sometime ago. The Date Shake shack had a devoted following, and I am pretty sure you could find recipes on the web. Try making some shakes from your stash! Borrowing your phrase: it is utterly divine!!!!

    May 31, 2008 | 1:04 pm

     
  16. bagito says:

    I find dates a little too sweet for my taste but thanks to fg’s/Maria Clara’s/chunky’s cheese and prosciutto ideas above, I’ll probably give my dates a second chance. ;-) Thanks, guys!

    May 31, 2008 | 1:07 pm

     
  17. connie says:

    Like MC and chunky I make appetizers for parties and prepare the dates well ahead of time. Stuff the date with Parmigiano-Reggiano, wrap a strip of bacon around it, secured with toothpick and bake. It’s sweet and salty heaven. I want to try using prosciutto, just haven’t got the chance to do so. Anyway, the internet site I got the recipe from said they got the idea from one of Susan Goin’s restaurants. I wonder if the original recipe used prosciutto.
    I toss dates in my broccoli/chicken/apple salad whenever I want something sweet for a salad.

    May 31, 2008 | 1:53 pm

     
  18. solraya says:

    I love dates and eat as it is. Great idea to stuff, wrap etc. Used to see tons of this in a flea market in Indio…not sure now if that was in California.

    I saw some in Makati Supermarket’s shelves but the box wasn’t appealing at all. Very crudely packed and not wrapped. Sure in the flea market it was just piled and all, but then I knew it was just harvested from a nearby farm.

    May 31, 2008 | 5:36 pm

     
  19. Mangaranon says:

    Soak this in milk overnight and your milk will have an out of this world taste. This is what my Arab friends do.

    May 31, 2008 | 5:45 pm

     
  20. Homebuddy says:

    Baking it as food for the Gods, will strech it a bit so more can partake of it…..hehehe!

    May 31, 2008 | 6:28 pm

     
  21. sister says:

    On a trip to Cairo we went to a date plantation- date palms have to be hand pollinated to get plenty of fruit.

    May 31, 2008 | 7:31 pm

     
  22. mia says:

    we take out the pit of the dates and sandwich or top them with butter and bake (300-350F) just until butter is melted…this is what we do with left-over dates on flight and enjoy them as our (flight attendants) snack.

    May 31, 2008 | 8:10 pm

     
  23. presentacion says:

    i love dates and eat them as they are. i have a cousin who
    brings them to me as pasalubong from saudi as freshly harvested ones. sometimes she brings plenty i share them with some older lady friends who like them so much. i also use them for some date and walnut bars which i also share with some of my younger friends. its the best way i make use of these wonderful naturally sweet dates.

    Jun 1, 2008 | 12:19 am

     
  24. an says:

    Hallo Marketman! since you’ll be going to Turkey, you will never miss on the way local shops offering dates and other dried fruits. I would recommend to consider a visit next time to the old city of Marrakech, Morocco. If you will like Turkey, definitely your heart will belong to Marrakech Ãœ I’m sharing you here our link of our Marrakech vacation which included picture of souk selling dates etc.-http://www.tabblo.com/studio/stories/view/1230550/
    enjoy!

    Jun 1, 2008 | 2:29 am

     
  25. lava bien says:

    I’m from Cali, but the best dates I’ve had were from Algeria. They’re not hard or a bit dry like the ones for here in Cali. I get to eat them plus local Paki, Indian, Moroccan, Egyptian, Jordanian and of course Algerian cuisine mostly during the breaking of the fast in Ramadan as they invite other people of different faith. Yummmmmmm, you get to love Ramadan for all these blessings.

    Jun 1, 2008 | 3:19 am

     
  26. quiapo says:

    You can try putting a few in a chicken or lamb tajine, or chopping a couple and mixing it with some dried apricots in cous cous

    Jun 1, 2008 | 6:36 am

     
  27. lyna says:

    there is a chocolate shop here – Patchi – which sells chocolate covered whole pitted dates that just melts in you mouth! Their product comes from the middle east, so I am sure they are really good dates [Well, with the price, it should be!]

    Jun 2, 2008 | 12:27 am

     
  28. witsandnuts says:

    Lotsa dates here in Abu Dhabi, but I haven’t tried any. But because of your post, I am going to try one soon. =)

    Jun 2, 2008 | 12:55 am

     
  29. Bolette says:

    I got the first taste of dates when I visited a store offering free taste in Dubai…I thought it was a chocolate…when I tasted it … it was not and all of a sudden it tasted to me as…wow big prunes…because of the difference and really tasted sooo good and wow…I finished the tray of dates on the table.After that, anybody coming from the Middle East I ask for the taste of DATES!

    Sep 5, 2008 | 11:50 am

     
 

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