Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day Eighteen: A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi

My husband is home for lunch (we have lunch together a lot, especially now that I spend four days a week in Spokane) and we just finished trying our very first Medjool dates. I've had dates before--the dried variety--but I'm not sure if I've had them fresh before today. There has been some confusion for me on the dried vs. fresh front, as far as dates are concerned, because in their fresh form they are so wrinkly and soft, much like their buddy the prune. Except, really, dates and prunes aren't buddies. I don't think they have much in common at all.

The main thing that struck me about these Medjool dates was their custardy texture. The flavor was almost exactly the same as the flavor I found in my dried dates, and while not disagreeable, it's a flavor I still can't quite pin down (as we were eating, the hubby and I probably used the word "weird" about fifteen times). I chewed and chewed and tried to think of a way in which this flavor would be truly delicious. Of course, it might just be a matter of my getting used to it. Maybe one day, dates will be my snack of choice. I came to the conclusion that a date pudding might be good, and while dates enjoy a reputation of sweetness, I think my candy-eating palate would like just a little more sugar.

Then, I looked dates up on the interwebs. Apparently, they are a good source of magnesium, potassium (like bananas), copper, and manganese (the latter two I didn't really realize I should be eating but I know they're good wiring materials). They have about 66 calories each. They're apparently a Christmas tradition, but not in my family. They are often used in both savory and sweet culinary applications; apparently it is popular to stuff them with nuts and wrap them in bacon. I can see that. Anything wrapped in bacon is good. They are also used to top salads and foie gras, which seems appropriate given their texture.

I'm going to have to go on more dates with these dates (ha ha). Give them a second, third, fourth chance. I really think they're hitting a section of my palate that has atrophied over the years. I tend to go for foods with so much flavor that they make my jaw hurt. Super stinky cheeses, super sweet desserts. I've got to learn a little more finesse. Subtlety, you know? A certain je ne sais quoi.

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