Monday, 24 May 2010

What’s in a name

Last week I went to the spice market, in the south of Tel Aviv. I go there when I need to top up my spice supply, in search of a salted herring or just treasure hunting. There is a shop that makes and sells fresh phyllo sheets, kadaif, another is a coffee roaster, therers a shop that sells parking tickets and cures fish and there is a pastry shops in business for over 50 years, where the decor is frozen somewhere areound 50 years ago, making marzipan nuggets for generations.

My loot from the day was a paper bag with 9 pieces of marzipan and a dehydrated mystery fruit.

The market consists of shops on both sides of a narrow one-way street. Bags of dried fruit, nuts, legumes and grains spill onto the pavement in a bid to catch the gaze of passers by. It worked. As I was walking along I noticed a large brown bag with strange looking fruit. They were a dark red colour, and at first i thought they were dates, but dates are juicy, sticky and succulent, while these had the texture of stale marshmallows and a taste reminiscent of a dried apricot.

The vendor told my their name, and said they came from Iran. I have no more on them as google seems too have never of them and proved uninterested and least helpful. I had one or two but decided that more can be done with them. So I boiled them with sugar, water and spices (Anise, cinnamon, cardamon and cloves) and simmred for and hour.

I don’t know their name, but in the words of William Shakespeare “that which we call a rose 
by any other name would smell as sweet”. The taste is in the fruit, not the name.

I'f you can shed a light on the real name of this now gooey succulent toffee candy in a compote, I'll be grateful and enlightened.

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