Letter To The Editor: Do You Eat Dates?Aug 15th, 2013 | By Jacob | Category: Editorials, Letters To The Editor
Do you eat Dates? Dates?, What’s that? You know, the red orange fruit that grows on the Palm trees. No, I never had one, and I didn’t know that you could eat them. This is the typical response from anyone under the age of 30. But ask the same of most anyone who grew up in the 1960′s or 70′s in a small southern town, and the response is usually one of smiles and the look of delight as the memory of the sweet tart like taste, brings back thoughts of yesteryear, days gone by. A time when things were simple and uncluttered. Kids played outside, and rode bikes, and if you didn’t have your own, you’d sit on the handle bars or hop on back to hitch a ride. We played dodge ball, or kick ball, neighborhood basketball, or football games. We played ping pong, shot marbles, played hide and seek. Summers were great, filled with activity and adventures to discover outside, it was never too hot, and we used our imagination and our ingenuity. We had horsey on a stick, the invisible dog. We used to tie balloons onto the bike forks and let them rub against the spokes on the wheel to sound like a motorcycle. The fair would come to town. We had dirt streets and the Dates grew on Palm trees in the cemetery. Every summer, we’d take bike rides to Sunset Cemetery to see if the Dates were ready. We didn’t want to miss them as other people were waiting and watching for them too. I wondered why I never saw them for sale in the grocery store, but anywhere we went and we saw them, we wanted them. Most of the time, we’d rinse them off , and eat them right then, chewing the juicy fibrous pulp until all the flavor was gone, then spit them out and bite into another. Sometimes we put salt on them and enjoyed a sweet, tangy, salty flavor. We didn’t know about Date jelly, wine, or preserves.We ate them fresh off of the ground after they’d fallen or actually pulled the cluster from the tree and ate them one by one. We never had the dried ones, only the fresh ones. I wondered where they’d come from. Turns out, there are many varieties of Dates and Palm trees. For our purposes, we’ll keep it simple and just focus on the particular variety that I grew up on and continue to enjoy today, except that now I don’t have to go to the cemetery to get them. I have a Date tree at my house. Its been here for all of the 23 years that I’ve lived here. I don’t do anything special to it, but each year, around July and August, it produces Dates abundantly. I hate to see them go to waste, so I pick them, wash them off, bag and refrigerate them, and give them to anyone who savor the flavor of this wonderful fruit, and there are many that do. I love to see their faces light up when I hand them a bag filled with plump, juicy, ripe Dates. “How much are they” They’re free. no charge! “Really, Thanks, I really appreciate this”, and sometimes I get a story of how they used to eat them when they were kids. Such a simple gesture, the gift of a bag of Dates, can bring a warm feeling of joy, a simple kindness, that’s absolutely priceless. I recommend that you try it, especially if you have a Date tree, or fruit tree of any sort. Don’t let them go to waste. Pick them up, rinse them off, bag and refrigerate them and give them away to any who will appreciate them. The feeling of joy that comes from giving, instead of receiving will be priceless. I searched the internet for a picture of the type of Dates that we have here in South Georgia, but I didn’t see the particular variety, so I called Dasher’s Nursery and the gentleman told me that we have the Pindo Date Palm. So I googled Pindo Date Palm and I saw a picture that looks like our Dates. They are either Pindo or Queen Palm Dates.They are very similar to each other, except the Queen Palms fruit, when ripe is always orange to red in color, like the ones I have, and the Pindo Palm fruit , however is always yellow and when ripe, is very yellow, but not orange. Yep, mine are more orange and red orange, so they are Queen Palm Dates.( the internet was not invented when I was a child, we used encyclopedias! Remember them?) These palms are a common landscape plant in Florida and Georgia cemeteries and in the south in general and most owners will gladly give you the fruit since it does create quite a mess on lawns and in yards. Eating the Date is similar to eating Sugar Cane, in that it is tasty, but very fibrous. Some people can swallow the fiber, but most just chew it to get the juice and flavor out of it, then spit the pulp out.It reminds me of a peach and a nectarine put together, kind of sweet and tangy tart. But most of all eating Dates remind me of days gone, but certainly not forgotten. We’re blessed to still be here, many others are not, and the Dates?, well they’re still here too. So when you see a Date tree, try one, and discover what you’ve been missing.