Kate presents The Date: A Guide to Varieties, History and Recipes, and picks some of her favorite Spring recipes in What To Eat This Month.
by Kate Heyhoe
When the announcement came that Egyptian President Mubarak had finally stepped down (in February 2011), crowds celebrated by throwing candies and dates everywhere, including into one reporter's vehicle. Celebrating with dates? Really? The image stuck in my mind; it's not something practiced in the Western world.
Dates are an iconic part of Middle Eastern life, which includes North Africa, and most Westerners know as little about them as they do the countries of North Africa. So it seems appropriate to get a taste of the region and its culture by exploring the esteemed date in history and recipes. Here's a complete Guide to Dates, with info on date varieties and cooking with dates, and their role from ancient to modern times.
Look at a map, and you'll see how easy it was for Arabs to cross from the Middle East into Africa. Some researchers believe ancient Iraq to be the birthplace of the date palm (and possibly the site of the Garden of Eden). The trade-loving Phoenicians are credited with spreading the plant from the Fertile Crescent to and across North Africa, which today consists of Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Western Sahara, and Morocco. MORE...
Dates grow in large bunches weighing some 20 pounds (10 kg) and yielding as many as a thousand fruits. Average trees produce 100 pounds (50 kg) per season, with vigorous trees yielding three times as much. Most fruits are around 2 inches (5 cm) long. MORE...
Copyright © 2011, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified April 2011
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