Friday, March 04, 2005

A Date to Remember

Dear Readers, if you are expecting me to dish about some exciting romantic encounter from my vacation, you may be sorely disappointed!

If, however, you remember (and love) that I'm here to talk about food, you will be most envious of my brief sojourn amidst the date groves of California's Imperial Valley.

Date palms are wonderfully exotic and majestic looking on their own, but to see large groves of these beauties (with sizes ranging from tiny to towering) is impressive. Can you imagine groves like this in the Middle East, perhaps with camels wandering through?

Thanks to the Chef Mother's insatiable curiosity about places she visits, I learned that dates have to be harvested multiple times from the same tree since they don't all ripen at once, and the pickers have to climb up (somehow, don't ask me how) and harvest the fruits by hand. (You couldn't pay me to do that job... those trees are really tall!)

Anyway, we stopped at the Imperial Date Gardens for one of their most delectable treats: a date shake. Just finely chopped dates blended with milk and vanilla ice cream... so simple, but so rich and delicious! It was very filling, too, thus keeping me from being too tempted by all the fresh dates and other date snacks for sale.

But don't you worry... I did pick up a small package of date rolls to share, and my folks have agreed to go back and buy me a larger box of fresh Medjool dates before they come home. Apparently dates can be frozen, so I can stock up!

That way, I'll never lack a choice of good dates.

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