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197 × 120 × 15 mm
136 pages
66 illustrations, 60 in colour
01 Apr 2011

Dates A Global History Nawal Nasrallah

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, consumed fresh or dried, as a snack or a dessert. They are even thought to have aphrodisiac qualities.

The ancients said that the date palm had 360 uses: its seeds can be burned for charcoal, its trunk used as an irrigation pipe in fields, its leaves are woven into baskets and its sap can be turned into wine. It is no wonder, then, that it has played such a central role in the economy – and the culture – of the Middle East. The date palm’s story follows its journey from its land of origin to the far-flung regions where it is cultivated today, such as Australia, California and Spain. Along the way, Nasrallah weaves many fascinating and humorous anecdotes that explore the etymology, history, culture, religion, myths and legends surrounding dates. She explains how the tree came to be a symbol of the Tree of Life; how it is associated with the fiery phoenix, the famous ancient goddess Ishtar and the moon; and lifts the veil on the curious sex life of the date palm.

This delightful and unusual book gives a new perspective on the ‘bread of the desert’, the fruit from this most beautiful and useful of trees.

‘Nawall Nasrallah has harvested fascinating information and in her warm, unhurried voice, and tells it over to us in her Dates, A Global History . . . Dates winds its way like a river through the history of the date palm, from ancient times until today . . . The little book is also generously illustrated with photographs and historical reproductions . . . after reading this delicious little book, Im just hungry to open my fridge and fish out a few fat, chewy, sticky dates to eat out of hand’ — Green Prophet

‘Nasrallahs 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, youll feel like an honorary member of Nasrallahs huge family: armed and ready to prepare your own Middle Eastern date banquet.’ — Etihad In-flight

‘In this small volume, Nasrallah explores the historical, cultural, religious, industrial, nutritional, and culinary aspects of the date and date palm, and offers quirky facts of food lore.’ — Boston.com

‘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 . . . a tasty offering for date-lovers, botanists, biologists and historians alike.’ — Saudi Aramco World

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Nawal Nasrallah is an independent researcher and food writer who resides in Salem, New Hampshire. She is a member of the Culinary Historians of Boston, and her recipes have featured in publications such as New York Times, Boston Globe Magazine and Food and Wine. Her cookbook Delights from the Garden of Eden (2003) is regarded as the definitive source on the cuisine of Iraq, and her English translation of the tenth-century Baghdadi cookbook Kitab al-Tabikh, Annals of the Caliphs Kitchens, was awarded ‘Best Translation in the World’ and ‘Best of the Best of the Past 12 Years’ at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2007.

Introducing the Date

1. Looking After the Date
2. Date Varieties
3. The 360 Uses of the Date Palm
4. The Eminent History of the Date
5. Looking for the Date: A Bird's-Eye View
6. The Future of the Date

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Websites and Associations
Photo Acknowledgements