Dates from DaVall Date Gardens, Thermal California
It must be that the Santa Barbara Farmers Market is a big draw for farmers all over central and southern California. Farmer DaVall drives all the way from Thermal, California, some 300 plus miles, to sell at the local market. The DaVall farms grows dates. I remember having dates as a kid. Those were the dried fruit packs that were once popular to send from California (land of fruits and nuts it is said). Later in life we would stop at Hadley's on the way to Palm Springs and get the obligatory date shake. Hadley Fruit Orchards was founded by Paul and Peggy Hadley in 1931 in Banning, California.
The other date place in the area was Shields Date Garden in Indio, California. From their web page: "Floyd and Bess Shields came to the California desert in 1924 and started Shields Date Garden, working long and hard to build up their business and educate their customers about date culture. In the beginning, Mr. Shields would give his lecture in the garden. As the popularity of his lecture grew, Mr. Shields incorporated a slide show, then recorded his presentation in conjunction with the slide show so that the show could be run several times a day. Today, the 15-minute film Romance and Sex Life of the Date shows continuously during store hours, where you can still hear Mr. Shields talking about his favorite subject: the Date."
A brief history from Wikedia: "Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around the Persian Gulf, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in eastern Arabia in 6000 BCE. (Alvarez-Mon 2006).
In later times, Arabs spread dates around South and South West Asia, northern Africa, and Spain and Italy. Dates were introduced into Mexico and California by the Spaniards by 1765, around Mission San Ignacio."
Back to DaVall. They were offering three varieties this past week, Barhi (mild caramel aftertaste), honey(like is say, very sweet and soft) and aracada dates. The aracada is the one that got my attention as they are dark as black ink with a slightly fibrous skin and a medium soft, sweet meat.
Here are a few recipes right from the farm.