Thursday, November 23, 2006

Forbidden Dates

"Mmmm. Forbidden dates."

One of my husband's coworkers brought in some fresh dates a few weeks ago and my husband was immediately smitten with them. He enjoys dates in general but had never had fresh ones. Fresh dates are moister, softer, plumper, and less sticky-sweet than dried ones. He's had Medjool dates and other expensive premium dates but nothing as enjoyable as these.

The dates were sold at a Turkish cafe near his school in Shinjuku. They didn't have any in stock when he asked about them but said they'd call when they got some more in. Yesterday, I received the call. Unfortunately, I couldn't understand the name of the shop but they spoke English and were quite nice about offering to set some aside for him should he not be able to make it any time soon. Yesterday, he was able to squeeze in a quick trip (despite having an extremely busy and tiring day which included 8 hours and 20 minutes of face-to-face teaching) and picked up two boxes. Each box is about 800 grams and costs 650 yen. There are about 50 dates per box so the price is a relative bargain.

One of the interesting things about these dates is that they're a treat he likely couldn't have purchased in the United States. Research on the internet seems to indicate there's still a trade embargo with Iran though goods are sometimes traded through third parties. Besides oil, dates, olives and pistachios are Iran's biggest exports. Also, Japan is Iran's number one import partner though that's unlikely to be due to great quantities of fruits and nuts and more likely to be about oil.

I'd never really paid much attention to the nutrition information on dates until I saw this box. I'm surprised at how nutritious they are. Most fruit contains no or very small amounts of protein and each of these contain between 2 and 3 grams of protein. They are calorically dense but they're also not the sort of thing one is likely to sit down and scarf a lot of at one sitting. The presence of protein helps mitigate blood sugar fluctuations from eating something which is high in carbohydrates so I'm encouraging my husband to indulge in these on a regular basis.

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