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Food Challenge: Dates…So Delicious! (Part I)

Posted Mar 09 2010 5:55pm

Each week I challenge myself to try out a new food or to find new ways to prepare food that I have previous detested. Last week I tried out red cabbage and this week’s theme is dates!

I have never had dates before. Even if I try really hard to dig through my past memories, the only times I had seen dates in my meals were mushy ones that floated in the Chinese tonic soup that my mom made all the time (don’t get me wrong, the soup taste fabulous, just that the dates looked very unappealing). Because those mushy dates didn’t at all appetizing, so I never took a bite out of them. But this week, everything is going to change. I will explore the flavour of dates and I will attempt to make delicious dishes out of them!

Before making the bold move to include dates in my recipes, I thought it would be important to learn about their natural flavour first. Hence, I went out and bought 2 types of dates for a mini tasting session.

The first kind was dried dates with a honey flavour. I found this on the snack foods aisle at my local Asian supermarket. It came in a very nice, colourful resealable pouch. The second kind I bought was a 1lb box of Medjool dates. At first I was quite hesitant as to whether or not these would be worth their price ($10 dollars), but one of my readers highly recommended them and so I decided I would give them a try after all!

The first kind was dried dates with a honey flavour. I found this on the snack foods aisle at my local Asian supermarket. It came in a very nice, colourful resealable pouch. The second kind I bought was a 1lb box of Medjool dates. At first I was quite hesitant as to whether or not these would be worth their price ($10 dollars), but one of my readers highly recommended them and so I decided I would give them a try after all!

Honey Dates. The honey dates package advertised itself as a healthy snack food, and it did seem so. They were bite-sized and were already pitted, which made it really easy to just grab them from the bag and pop them one after another. They were chewy (a little too chewy and sticky) and sweet. The skin was also slightly too dry and hence I had to chew it for a bit longer to moisten the skin before I could swallow the date. The honey flavour was prominent but not overwhelming, which made the dates more enjoyable, definitely a plus. As a finger food, I thought they would probably take a little too much effort to chew and swallow, but they could really add sweetness to granola or be a lovely topping for yogurt or sweet oatmeal too.

Medjool Dates. Since the honeyed dates tasted pretty good, I grew fairly excited about the flavour of the Medjool dates. They were much larger. They had a small pit and lots of surrounding flesh. The flesh was very gooey and moist, making them chewy (in a good way). It also had a very distinct sweetness that I enjoyed very much. The sweetness came from the fruit itself, very unlike the sweetness from the honey dates; this sweetness tasted much more natural, which in comparison, made the honey flavour seemed awfully artificial and overwhelming now. In short, Medjool dates were delicious! You can really eat them like candy — the aroma and sweetness is pretty addictive and keeps you going back for another one!

Taste Test Conclusion: I bought the two different kind of dates because I wanted to compare how quality of the dates differ based on variety and how that will influence my tasting experience. And having tasted both varieties, Medjool dates well deserved their title as “King of dates”. So, even though cost is a big issue, I am still willing to spend more money to get them –  I’ll just make sure I savour every bite of these babies!

So just to let you know, I have already fallen in love with Medjool dates (it was love at first bite!).  And, I am certain that this 1-lb box will quickly disappear as I start eating them like candy. But, just for sake of this challenge, I’ll make sure I save a handful just so I can explore more ways to enjoy dates. :)

What is your favourite ways to enjoy dates? Share them here, I’ll love to try them!

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