A Global History
Reaktion Books, Hardcover, 9781861897961, 136pp.
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
In Dates, Nawal Nasrallah draws on her experience of growing up in the lands of ancient Mesopotamia, where the date palm was first cultivated, to explore the history behind the fruit. Dates have an important role in their arid homeland of the Middle East, where they are a dietary staple and can be consumed fresh or dried, as a snack or a dessert, and are even thought to have aphrodisiac qualities.
In this history, Nasrallah describes the central role the date palm has played in the economy of the Middle East. This informative account of the date palm's story follows its journey from its land of origin to the far-flung regions where it is cultivated today. Along the way, Nasrallah weaves many fascinating and humorous anecdotes that explore the etymology, history, culture, religion, myths, and legends surrounding dates. For example, she explains how the tree came to be a symbol of the Tree of Life and associated with the fiery phoenix bird, the famous ancient goddess Ishtar, and the moon, and how the medjool date acquired its name.
This delightful and unusual book is generously illustrated with many beautiful images, and supplemented with more than a dozen delicious date recipes for savory dishes, sweets, and wine.
“In addition to the date lore she recounts, Ms. Nasrallah offers recipes ranging from the arcane (an ancient Roman date sauce to accompany boiled ostrich) to the accessible, such as ‘Cupid's Omelet,’ a traditional Middle Eastern dish of eggs, chopped dates, butter and a dash of cinnamon that, besides tasting good, is ‘believed to be aphrodisiac, especially if served with a small glass of milk or carrot juice.’”
“We are quite taken with the short but engagingly readable Edibles series of handsome little books on basic, well, edibles, as in the cultural and global history of one type of food or beverage. Originating in England from Reaktion Books but written by foodie journalists or food science academics on both sides of the Atlantic, these spritely, much-illustrated books are a peruser’s delight.”
“Nasrallah’s epic food memoir offers a smorgasbord of date history and fascinating facts topped with a dash of culture and a sprinkling of Arabic myth. Spicy and exotic, Dates: A Global History is also jam-packed with scrumptious date recipes for every occasion. After one read of this book, you’ll feel like an honorary member of Nasrallah’s huge family: armed and ready to prepare your own Middle Eastern date banquet.”– Etihad In-flight
“A fun, smartly written series appropriate for a popular audience that likes to eat . . . the Edible series books provide level-headed and enjoyable overviews of food culture . . . These will create a little library that any foodie will be proud to show off . . . aesthetically pleasing volumes with decent content that would make good presents.”—Winterthur Portfolio, on the Edible series
“Like the date—small, but sweet and nutrition-rich—Dates: A Global History packs the story of this versatile and important fruit and its parent palm into a compact yet comprehensive volume.”