I spend a lot of time talking about dates -- my lack of dates, the dates that inexplicably end with me paying the bill, and the dates that seem to be going well until the guy brings up his stripper ex-girlfriend. Who still lives with him.
My cadre of horrific and appalling "single gal in the city" stories are fun to share, but today I am going to be devoting my creative energies to a different kind of date. The edible kind.
The don't look particularly appetizing. The first time I spotted a date that was not smooshed down to form the filling for my grandma Yetta's date pinwheel cookies, I was actually a bit repulsed. It looked like a shrivelled up, over-sized raisin, and up until recently, I relegated raisins to the "don'ts" side of my food-related "do's and don'ts" list. I poked at the questionable fruit that was hibernating amidst the field greens, carrots, red onion, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, strawberries, and grapes on my Pacific Whey summer salad and made a face at my mother.
"They're so good." She insisted, urging me on.
I scrunched my nose up in response, but brushed my apprehension aside to tentatively cut off a small bite of the Medjool date. The dense, chewy fruit shocked my tongue with its sweetness. I didn't know what to think. I took another tentative bite and then eagerly gave the rest of my date pieces to my mother.
But then something strange happened. Despite my indifferent first reaction to the Medjool date, a couple days later I was hit with a pregnant lady-esque craving for some. I dragged my mom back to the Pacific Whey Cafe, ordered the summer salad again, and proceeded to make mince meat out of the odd little fruit. I'd fallen in love.
Today, dates are one of my favorite foods. I adore them wrapped up in a coat of crispy bacon, like the version at A.O.C. I giddily add them to my morning oatmeal when my breakfast needs to be kicked up a few notches. And I regularly crave them as a healthy alternative to a piece of chocolate for a post-lunch treat. The caramel-esque piece of fruit has become a vital source of sweet nourishment for me during this season of Lent, allowing me to feel both indulgent and health-conscious at the same time.
My friend Ashley doesn't believe me when I tell her how good they are. She says, "I have no desire to eat dates," and dismisses them as another wretched shriveled fruit in her food "don'ts" column. Her stubborn stance against the date makes me want to force feed her one just to prove her wrong. Maybe I would if she didn't live 3,000 miles away in Washington D.C. For now, I will just let her continue on in her ignorant anti-date behavior. I know she'll change her mind when I fly out to visit her at Boston University this August and trick her into eating one stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped up in a bacon blanket. A single bite doesn't get much better than that.
Unless, of course, I'm talking about an experience with the other kind of date...