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Date Ripple Ice Cream

A few months ago, my eye was caught at a local shop by a branch with what looked like yellow velvet mini apricots on it. A sucker for slightly Disneyfied foods, I picked a branch up and enquired as to what it was of the shopkeeper. He explained that they were fresh dates, brought in for Ramadan when iftar or the breaking of the fast is traditionally performed with a date and water. Not only do they look fabulous, they are less sweet than dried dates, so I thought I’d definitely give them a go. A bit of Googling told me they are known as barhi dates and that they are pleasantly fresh and cleansing.

Forgoing the small sherry I often have as an aperitif, I decided to try a fresh khalal date instead. Plucked from the branch, they were as silky smooth as a perfect peach with a serious crunch when I bit into it. And then all the moisture was sucked from my mouth in a startling fashion that pursed my lips like the Grandma in George’s Marvellous Medicine. My mouth felt as if it was first thing in the morning after a heavy night on the sauce and as if I’d scoured it out with oxalic acid for funsies first. My teeth were on edge, my mouth tasted foul and I had to brush my teeth several times to remove the sensation. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten.

Sulking slightly, I left the dates to sit on the windowsill as punishment for letting me down and went away for a few days. When I came back, the dates had wizened, shrunk down and deepened in colour to a wonderful glossy shade of amber that just gleamed with natural sugar. They looked much more appetising than those lifeless things you see in trays around Christmas with their own fork. I ate quite a few just off the branch and revelled in their candy like feel, but wondered what else I could use them for. As usual, when in doubt, I thought ice cream…

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