Dates from Oman
OMANI FARMING AND THE DELIGHTS OF SUMMER
Temperatures can climb to 48 degrees Celsius (or around 120 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer, which is bearable in our area only because the climate is so dry, and because we have air-conditioning :-) I melt away when visiting Muscat which is considerably more humid. These hot and dry conditions make for some of the finest dates in the Sultanate. (The locals claim that they are THE finest dates in the Sultanate.) It is rare to find a house without at least one date palm in the yard. Most people plant as many date palms as they can afford to water.
About the first of June, the first dates become ripe enough for eating. Locally, there are several dozen different date varieties grown. Some are red before they ripen; others are yellow. Some varieties do not dry well and are best eaten when ripe. Other varieties are delicious both as fresh “rutub” and dried “sih.” For those of you who have not had the pleasure of eating fresh “rutub,” I must tell you that they are good! In my opinion, fresh dates are better than the dried fruit, especially if they are eaten soon after being picked, because fresh dates do not stay fresh more than a few days, even if placed in the refrigerator.
Dates are THE traditional staple food of our region. I have heard an English expression which calls dates “the bread of the desert.” I think this expression adequately applies here. Dates are served with breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, and snacks, any day, every day. Dried dates are never served unless fresh “rutub” are unavailable.
Omani families take great pride in having date farms, as owning a farm is a traditional sign of good status.