03 December 2006
I am the last person you would expect to have a blog. It sounds so, technical, so trendy. But after reading many cooking blogs and websites, I wanted a space to share my own cooking endeavors. So here we are, discovering new recipes and rediscovering old ones, and writing about the ways food brings us together.
And the name, you might ask? It refers to one of my favorite foods, dates. There is nothing quite like coming upon an oasis of date palms, vibrant green amidst miles and miles of nothing but sand. Sweet, succulent little packages of carbohydrate balance, dates are truly the desert’s candy. Unlike English, Arabic has many words for all different types of dates, referring to their stages of ripeness and varieties.
Young dates, balah, are still yellow and have a pleasant crunchy tang similar to a Granny Smith Apple.
As the dates age they gain brown spots and their insides turn caramelly-soft; it looks like the fruit is going bad, but don’t throw them away! In this middle stage, the dates can be wonderfully juicy and sweet-tart.
Finally, the gewey dates in the form most familiar to us. There are thousands of varieties, and you can read a lovely essay about the date-growing culture here. In the United States, I prefer the large Medjool dates, while in Oman, the preferred date is tiny and jewel-like, khlas and deglet noor are good varieties. Date paste and date syrup (dibs) are readily available in Middle Eastern markets.
And of course, besides eating them out of hand, dates are great to add to both savory and sweet dishes. But we’ll get to that next time...