Eat Local Dates
Local dates. I got you, huh. No one’s a-growin’ dates around here right, not even Lloyd Nichols. Well, just because I could not find any dates at the Daley Plaza Farmer’s Market yesterday, does not mean I did not happily buy some dates today from Middle Eastern Flair in Norridge (yes Norridge, or as someone on Yelp said, “Who would of thought that Norridge would get something this good?). I bring this up for two reasons. First, to make the obvious but somehow necessary point, we locavores don’t have to get all our food within a few hundred miles. Sometimes we want some fresh, seasonal dates. Second, man those dates were good.
I could go on. As I already noted, the dates are in season, probably accounting for the fact that they are one of five foods mentioned in the Talmud for Rosh Hashanah. They came from California, so they were not from that far away. And as much as it aggrieves me to say, it has not been a great year for local fruit. I purchased three kinds of plums at Daley yesterday and I am still searching for one with flavor. It took one proffered taste of these dates to know I had something special to get. The one I was given to try was “half-n-half”, which seemed on first blush to be half spoiled. It was not–after all most dates are eaten dried anyways–it was sweet and sweeter. There’s a strong preference in Arabian food for premature fruits. In all the other examples I have tried, like green plums, the fruit is awfully puckish. Premature dates won’t make you wince at all.
A few years ago I heard Illinois organic farmer Stan Schutte declare that local food came as long as it took you to find it. If it takes you a visit to California, via Middle Eastern Flair in Norridge, to find seasonal dates, it does not make you any less a locavore.
Much other food stuff at Middle Eastern Flair including roasted chicken ala LA’s Zankow (true! their words); house made fresh cheese with black seeds, and various pastries. 4311 N. Harlem, Norridge, IL — (708) 457-2100.