THE DATE PALM: Bread of the Desert by Hilda Simon

THE DATE PALM: Bread of the Desert

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A sort of labor of love in honor of the author's father, who traveled in North Africa importing date palm offshoots for a California nursery--and who had intended to publish his Notes on the Date Palm, from which his daughter draws here. Illustrated with his own photos, Hilda Simon's summary of her father's 1913 ""safari"" is stiffer than might be expected (she refers to him repeatedly as ""the young American"") but it has its moments. Elsewhere the author details the date's importance in history (""even the vital and versatile coconut palm cannot compare"") from its probable origin in Mesopotamia, its likely identity as the ""honey"" in the land of milk and honey, and its function through centuries as a staple food for millions. The Spanish first brought the date palm to the New World, but not until early in this century was successful commercial cultivation begun; Simon ends with a history and tour of California's Coachella Valley where her father participated in establishing the industry. One quibble: the term ""lifestyle"" is already stretched when applied to animals; to refer (more than once) to a palm tree's lifestyle is ludicrous. Nevertheless, an informative survey, more serious and generally respectable than Meyer's Coconuts (1976).

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Dodd, Mead