Medjool Dates

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!

IMG_1.JPG

“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.

IMG_2.JPG

“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.

IMG_3.JPG

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.”

“Oh.”

“Now give me a Date.”

8 comments

  1. Dear Complete Stranger,

    I put a link to your blog on my blog. I hope you don’t mind. I hope you don’t think it stalker-ish. I hope you understand that, on occasion, I can indulge in fine foods.

    Here’s my criteria, though no one asked me for it. I’ve been to more than one wine-and-cheese party. I once went to Nikolai’s Roof for a meal, reviewing the restaurant, and that’s the only time I’ve ever eaten anything considered ‘buffalo’ that wasn’t also considered ‘wings.’ My favorite Atlanta restaurants are Zocalo and Cafe Tu Tu Tango. (It’s a chain, I realize, and I feel I must be somehow ashamed of that.)

    Lately, I’ve been ordering the same sandwich for lunch everyday. I realize that this is a manifestation of the fact that I need to get more variety in my life. I’m not just a tuna-on-wheat guy. I’m capable of bigger and better things.

    OK, I just reread this, and I realize that it paints me as a freak.

    Still, I’m being impulsive.

    Thanks,

    Riley McCarthy

  2. I love how medjool dates look kind of like cockroaches. You can really gross people out if you want. And THEN, you get all the dates to yourself.

    If you’re ever between LA and Palm Springs, stop at Hadley’s and have a date shake. Mmmmm.

  3. I had a spoced dates and mascarpone dessert at Lupa, mario batali’s place in NYC. Anyone have the recipe??

  4. Oh yeah, Medjool Dates an peanut butter is to die for!

    I have many recipes…..

  5. I knocked myself out for Mother’s day this year and cooked a brunch to die for. One of the easiest things I prepared was a little nibbler consisting of some phylo sheets that I lined mini muffin tins with. I then filled them with a mixture of goat cheese, chopped Medjool dates (also from T.J.s) and crispy chopped bacon. Bake till golden. AAahahhhhh…scrumptiously delicious!

  6. Being in England, far from date-growing climes, I’ve only just discovered the medjool date and thought it so wonderful I googled it and found your funny account. Bit worried about the poor chap who died though, I know the dates are great, but what a sacrifice he made for you.

    I gave my 10 year old a bite and I’m afraid she spat it out. I’d told her they were better than ice cream but so far she’s unimpressed!

%d bloggers like this: