Foodie Friday | Oman

Dates, Glorious Dates

Until I started traveling in the Middle East and North Africa,  I had no appreciation for dates (the fruit, that is). The lone boxes purchased to make Christmas cookies often languished well beyond their “sell by” date. Better late than never: I am now a convert.

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These merchants invited my friend and I to share a cup of Omani Coffee and dates

Omanis consume dates from sun up to sunrise with the average person eating almost 1/2 pound a day. Dates are an excellent source of protein, vitamins and mineral and their high sugar content (40–80 percent) protects them against bacterial contamination and means they can be stored for years.

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Birkat al Mouz

Oman has a population of 4.5 million people and has 8.5 million date palms producing 58 varieties and occupying approximately 85 per cent of the total area under fruit cultivation  (about 50 per cent of the total agricultural land). There is archeological evidence of date cultivation in the region as early as 6000 BCE and dates are mentioned frequently in the Bible and the Koran.dsc_9004-1We spent a morning at Birkat al M0uz  just outside of Nizwa , said to produce the most delicious dates in Oman. The water is provided by Aflaj irrigation, a gravity driven system that was placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2006.

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After this man scampered up the tree, several of us tried without success

Date Palms start bearing fruit after 7-8 years and a mature tree can produce over 300 pounds per year. Although harvest season was over and pollination  had not yet begun, one local showed us how he scales the tree to accomplish these tasks. It requires an enormous amount of strength. coordination and balance, to say nothing of thick soles!dsc_8992-1These dates are past their prime and will be used as fertilizer or animal feed. No part of the date tree goes wasted. The wood  provides an important source of building material, the leaves and fronds are used to make walls, roofs, baskets, ropes and medicines.

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Qahwa, dates and frankincense at Al Bustan Palace

Wherever we went, we were offered dates and a cup of Qahwa. Custom dictates the host continue refilling the guest’s cup until the empty cup is shaken from side to side, at which point the host can imbibe.  The basic recipe includes coffee, cardamon, rose water and either saffron or cinnamon and cloves.  It did not do much for jet lag, as its caffeine content is low, but we enjoyed partaking in the ritual.

More on Omani cuisine in the next Foodie Friday!

 

 

25 thoughts on “Foodie Friday | Oman

  1. Hi Maggie!

    Thanks for this post. I’ve had a pretty rubbish experience in Oman and I’ve never returned, but the more I read about it the more I think I’ve lucked out, because it seems quite a place!

    Looking forward to read more about it!

    Fabrizio

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I am glad you enjoyed the post. Just working on another about Nizwa,Misfat etc. Lucky you to live in such a fascinating part of the world. Muscat seems like a great place to live.

      Like

  2. Very nice experiences in Oman! I’m juust returning from Oman and I brought back plenty of dates for my family and friends, and myself lol The dates are soo sweet compared to others, yet small so it’s not overpowering. And like you mentioned, they go great with qahwa.

    Liked by 1 person

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