He used to have huge, overflowing open boxes of dates in the back of his store. They were so beautiful! The stupid health department said it was illegal and now they're all packaged in plastic. Why is it that overseas, you can hang a bloody goat in the window of your store and no one gets sick, but we freak out over dried fruit if its left uncovered???
Anyway, happy Ramadan and Rosh Hashana. Maybe dates are the treats of peace?
"I sell a lot of dates at Ramadan," says Dean Zaidan, owner of Mediterranean Imports in Findlay Market. He welcomes shoppers who are stocking up for the holiday. "People buy boxes for gifts, or they buy whole boxes to last the month," indicating a five-pound box of plump brown dates from California.
His tightly packed store, where he sells nuts, olive oils, spices and unusual imported foods, has a small corner dedicated to dates.
"There are 40 kinds of dates, that I know about," he says. "But not all ship well." His Medjool dates come from California, while the smaller Deglet Noor varieties come from Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia.
He also sells chopped dates, coated with sugar to keep them from sticking together, and a paste of dates for baking. The Medjool dates are larger and more moist than the smaller Deglet Noors, but Zaidan prefers the latter. "They have a deep, almost molasses-like flavor that I love."