Etymology: from the ancient Greek daktulos, “finger,” because of its shape.
The date is the slender sweet edible fruit of the date palm, which produces berries of rumpled-looking flesh surrounding a hard pit.
Talking about dates
with Alain Dutournier, Carré des Feuillants, Paris
Unfortunately dates are often synonymous with a sticky, gluey, blackish, starchy product - but it's like any product. There are no less than 200 varieties of dates, to which we must add different growing regions, all providing varying flavours and textures. My own particular favourite tends to the Deglet En-Nour variety, dates which come from Tunisia, and more precisely from the Nefta Oasis, where I believe the best dates in the world grow. When raw, they are almost transparent and you can see the stone. They have natural flavours of old rum, vanilla and orange flower. They have nothing in common with ordinary dates.
I had fun cooking them. I candied them at a low temperature, very slowly, and surprisingly with a few drops of very mild Tuscan olive oil which produces a slightly syrupy juice. On my menu I offer a date mousse pyramid, with dates in the centre.
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