Sweetest of the summer crop this year: The prize goes to our wonderful Zaghloul dates, large, glossy, and coloured from bright red through to a rich and dark brown depending on their degree of (over-)ripeness.
Bite into one and it is crunchy, juicy and flavorful. The taste of late summer in Egypt, after the main mango season has passed and before the citrus fruits overflow on market stalls. While Arabia has its Khidri and Kholas dates, Egypt – in my experience at least – is overwhelmingly the land of the Zaghloul.
The harvest last year amounted to 19 kg from our one palm tree. This year, we didn’t weigh the crop, which I now regret as I think it wise to keep a rough tally of how much the garden produces. But it was enough to distribute among family and friends, with some to fill a small box for freezing, to be transported to our son in London during the winter: A handful of jewels to brighten the grey winter days of northern Europe. And, of course, enough for us to enjoy plenty over three weeks or so, while they are still fresh.
I would not say that Zaghloul are my favourite dates. I’m more of a Khidri person, with a penchant for really dark, soft, sweet fruit to accompany a little finghen (cup) of Turkish, or Arabian, coffee. But I’m in the minority in my family, and I defer to their better judgement in the date-sphere. Besides, I’m grateful for every fruit the trees in our garden produce – chemical-free, freshly picked, a gift from nature.
For more about palm trees, at some length, see: