17
Sep

fresh dates-1 copy

I live in East London and have done so for the last ten years but for some reason, I still go West for my Lebanese shopping. I could easily go North to the Turkish shops in Green lanes, and I do sometimes but Zeina in Moscow Road remains my favourite Lebanese shop, not only because they have the best and freshest produce and meat but also because they bring in all kinds of wonderful fruit and vegetables when they come into season. You remember the lovely fresh pistachios from a few posts back. Well, the pistachios are even better now. More mature with the shell more open and the nut plumper. I have to add here that my friend Pierre Antaki, the secretary of the Académie Syrienne de la Gasstronomie, remonstrated wtih me for not mentioning that these pistachios were more than likely to have come from Aleppo (the name in Arabic is fistuq halab meaning the nut of Aleppo) where some of the world’s best pistachios come from.

In any case, I went to Zeina a couple of days ago to buy meat to make kibbeh bil-saniyeh (baked kibbé) and  they had  fresh dates. These have been in season for a while but like the pistachios, they are just coming into their own just now and they looked  particularly good that day.  So I bought some and I couldn’t resist eating half of them on the tube on the way back home while thinking back to the days when my father used to bring us huge straw baskets filled with the same fresh dates from Iraq where he spent time building roads and bridges. It’s funny, I do not remember eating them, just the  sight of the spectacular baskets filled with  bunches of gorgeous yellow dates.  If you live in London, do go to Zeina or any other Middle Eastern store to buy some dates. And if you would like to read a little more about dates, go to this article which I wrote recently for one of the FT magazines:


There is 4 comments on this post


  • Loved this post and your article. I was saddened by the news report (Al Jazeerah) that the production of dates has dwindled in Irak by 70% since the invasion! My dad used to live in Irak as an engineer too and he was the chief engineer in charge of building the museum of Baghdad and the parliament!


  • thanks joumana and how interesting. perhaps our fathers were in Iraq at the same time.


  • Just came home with fresh dates from the Oakland farmer’s market. An eccentric old date farmer drives the fruit up each week from the Coachella Valley down near Palm Springs. I’ll do a piece for xomba.com under my Blue Hat Man rubric, and link to your FT piece.
    Date palms, by the way, do not grow from seed. There’s a fabulous history of smuggling date palm shoots out of North Africa and the Middle East to build the American date industry. Most of those elegant date orchards have since been bulldozed in favor of golf courses and retirement condominiums.


  • loved your post for xomba and thanks for the link. too bad about the date orchards being bulldozed. shame the season will be over by the time i get there.

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