My senior year of college, my favorite professor, Rick Rambuss, invited four of his favorite students to dinner, one night, at his house. When one of them died unexpectedly, I was called in as a replacement. It was a key moment in my culinary genesis: the meal was brilliantly prepared by his partner, Chuck. There was wine, risotto, and grilled swordfish. And for dessert–or was it pre-dessert?–I remember a giant bowl of Medjool Dates.
There was something luxurious and magical about those dates. They seemed too sacred to touch. According to The Bard Valley Medjool Date Association this Date awe has precedent: “In ancient times, the Medjool date was considered the ultimate delicacy. Unrivaled in taste, the Medjool became a prized possession of Moroccan royalty….they hoarded the fruit and only they and their families knew of its delicate, but satisfying taste.”
For me, the Medjool Date is a perfect emblem of everything that was magical and wonderful about that dinner. I still see Rick and Chuck every now and then, and they take a certain paternal pride in the gorgeous Gourmet bouqet that bloomed from the bud they planted. Forgive the flowery writing.
Tonight at Whole Foods, I spied a container of Medjool Dates for $4.95. A steal!
“Hey!” yelled the clerk, as I was leaving. “You have to pay for that!”
“Oh,” I mumbled, pulling $4.95 from my pocket.
When I got home, I entered the apartment with glee.
“Who’s that?” asked Lauren.
“Glee,” I answered. “We brought Medjool dates!”
“Eww,” said Lauren, “I hate dates.”
“What?” cried Glee.
“They made me eat them in Hebrew school,” she explained, “so they bring back bad memories.”
Eschewing Lauren’s bad memories, Glee and I entered the kitchen.
“Here we go!” I sang, lifting a Medjool Date to my mouth.
“Look how plump and shiny,” I declared, “look at the superb wrinkles in the skin, the rich amber color, the delicate oval shape…”
“Just eat it!” yelled Glee.
I took a bite.
Suddenly, my former life as royalty in Morocco came back to me. I’m on a camel, and there’s a desert, and a tiny speck in the distance coming closer and closer.
“No, you idiot,” says Glee, “that’s Lawrence of Arabia.”
“Now give me a Date.”