no not the realtionship kind......
The edible kind. You know, the ones off the tree....
I never knew something so delicious existed growing up.
When I was a kid I read a book called Amelia Bedelia where she does things literally and in one book she was told to make a date cake and dumped into the batter cut up number dates from a calendar instead of the fruit date. I thought "what is a date?"
Later after saying Shahada I was at the masjid with my friend L., also a convert, and we were sitting in the imam's office chatting with him (he was an easy going guy). SUddenly he pulls out a clear plastic tin filled with something that looked disgustingly like cockroach bodies stuffed in neat lines.
"Go ahead, take one." He offers. L declines smiling. I look openly repulsed at him and the offerings. He lifted one brown slick shelled body from it's mates and with relish bit into it. I gaged.
"What is that?" I wrinkled my nose looking worriedly at him like he was going to have what he just ate coming to life under his skin and crawling around THE MUMMY(the movie) style. He laughed, LAUGHED!, at my face.
"They are fruits, called dates." He explained. I looked over at L skeptically.
"L, have you eaten them before?" I asked.
"Sure!" she replied. Not one for lots of words, was she.
"What do they taste like?" I prodded.
"Dried fruit." She offered. Come to think of it me and L never had any really LOOONG conversations...
"Is it tasty? Does it taste like bugs? It looks like a cockroach to me." I asked them. The Imam laughed again and proded the tin to me. I picked it up warily and read the top. Made in California. Ah good so this wasn't some "arab thingy" that is unregulated by the FDA. This inspired more faith in me about the food. (Prejudiced I was eh?) I looked closely at the so called date (aka dead roach with no head). It didn't seem to spout room for legs. I could see the tip of a seed sticking out and thought could that perhaps be the spinal cord?
"Are you going to eat it?" Imam asked leaning back in his chair amused at the american chica's new experience.
"L, if you eat one I will." I compromised. (aka CHICKEN!) She shrugged and took one and ate it while I watched again for gagging or movement under the skin. She seemed safe and just sat there after her mouth had emptied. I hesitantly picked up the cool slippery sticky piece of fruit. I eyed them again to make sure they weren't playing some trick on me to get me to eat a roach. At their benign expressions I took a small bit from the top. 'Sweet sticky sugar rush!', my tongue told my brain. I took another more happy bite. DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I ate it happily and took three more to munch then gave the Imam back the tin. He laughed again watching me chow down on what formerly looked to be unedible.
I never had them again in USA. When I got to Lebanon and was offered them again I was surprised to find them hard and chewey. Hubby explained to me different kinds and over the next five years I tried all different kinds. Being someone who LOVES sugary foods this was nutricious and delicious in one. Everyone quoted hadiths to me about dates and their actaul content on food facts was amazing. So healthy and filling. I was in love.
one day after having eaten 40 in a row while writing 20 pages in a row while preg with my daughter I bit into number 41 vowing this would be the last one for now (just like i had been vowing from number 15) and I ruminated about whether my heroine should first catch on fire and then jump ablaze or have the hero rush in and catch on fire and they jump together....both ablaze?...hmm interesting possiblilities when it comes to fire scenes...When all of a sudden I felt something crunchy in my mouth and I rolled it around on my tongue and then horrified spat it out on a tissue and saw some weird black dots that were round and clusted together and the half bit ones showed they were eggs of some sort...bug eggs obviously. I gagged and threw down my pen and rushed (awkwardly being pregnant) to the bathroom to rince my mouth. I wiped my lips with a towel to dry them and caught my wrinkled nose expression in the mirror and told myself, "GROSS!" I went back to my bed scattered with written pages and date seeds and a half filled box of now questionable dates lying innocently. I frowned meanly at them then with a swoop picked them up and stuffed them in the back of the fridge. When Hubby got home I questioned him about the disgusting date. "Yeah, that happens sometimes." He replied casually. "But Muhammad (saw) said we should just eat and not look saying Bismillah."
From then on I couldn't help but to check each one warily and gingerly. Gone was my habit of blindly eating them. I now when offered didn't take 7 but 1. I was sad because they were still tastly but the effort of opening eachone wasn't worth it for me anymore.
When we arrived in UAE I saw some differnt kinds of dates at stores but avoided them too. At a few special dinners I went to I was surprised when the Emeratian Lady brought around a basket of chocolates of different coatings....mmmmm chocolate.... I took a few for me and my daughter and gave her the first. She bit into it happily then--
SPAT IT OUT! What? "Yucky!" she exclaimed. I looked at it closely to see that it was a date covered in chocolate I bit into mine and saw it was the same. It was a very strange combination of sweet creamy chocolate and super sweet sticky date. But they seemed clean inside so I happily ate all of hers.
After this I thought maybe they have different cleaner dates here in UAE so I went looking at the store and saw a plain non-glaringly advertised box of dates. I opened the lid to look inside and saw plump juicy dates and they looked all clean so I bought them. After going through each one in the medium box and finding them all perfetly clean and delicious this is the brand I stick to from now on. I can eat them blindly and give them to my daughter without the hassle of checking. I've been eating them now for over a year and have never found one that looked or tasted questionable. The Producer and Exporter is: Kimia Dates Co. from IRAN. website http://www.kimiadates.com/ I haven't been to the site but i will after I post this. They cost only 7 dirhams for 750g. Pretty good.
I've lost a lot of weight eating just these dates all day instead of giving into cravings of chocolates because they give you a sharper sugar rush while still being healthy and fill you up at the same time.
Moral of this story: Though dates may look like roaches really they are sweet and delicious and you get over the roach comparisson fairly quickly. I highly reccommend them.
[thanks to the commenters of Marahm's roach post for the idea of this]
*update: I went to the site and there is nothing there. on the bo they call it e-mail so apperently someone is very mixed up in their english language and put a website instead of an e-mail address. Ah well at least they make great dates.*
no not the realtionship kind......