I have an infatuation with figs. I miss them dearly when the season is past, which is merely 2 months of the year: August and September. Here in New Haven we depend on California for figs. But on our tours, I’m often rewarded with figs if we travel to fig-producing countries in early Fall.
We’ve feasted on figs in Italy, Spain, France and Chile, eating them freshly picked from the tree. But when it’s out-of-season, I can get a fig fix by eating dried figs; after all, 85% of all the figs harvested in the world are dried.
I recently read a delightful book called ‘Figs, A Global History’ written by David C. Sutton. It was jam-packed (pun intended) with interesting tidbits for a figaholic. For instance:
-A fig is not a fruit, but rather a cluster of ingrowing flowers.
-They originated in Arabia and then passed to Europe after the Crusades and eventually to other parts of the world, including the US and even England, where they are cultivated.
-In ancient Rome dried figs were used instead of bread to feed marching armies.
-The ‘Forbidden’ fruit of Adam and Eve was probably a fig, not an apple.
-The top 3 leading fig producing countries are Turkey, Egypt and Iran.
There were also some wonderful recipes, one of which- Fettucine with Figs, Chard and Gorgonzola, I list below.
I also found a cocktail with figs as one of the ingredients. It’s a Leap Year cocktail fashioned by a new Manhatten bar called Upholstery Store. The cocktail is appropriately called ‘The 29th’ and it’s reminiscent of both a pisco sour and the negroni, two of my favorite cocktails. You can read the recipe here.
Recipe for Fettuccine with Figs, Chard and Gorgonzola, from ‘Figs, A Global History’ by David C. Sutton
250 g fettuccine
8 fresh figs, quartered
8-10 leaves chard, stems removed. leaves torn
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
75 g Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 handful walnut pieces
Cook fettuccine according to directions. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan and gently fry the minced garlic (without letting it burn.) Add the torn chard leaves and cook over medium heat until starting to wilt. Add the cooked pasta, 1 tablespoon olive oil, Gorgonzola and balsamic vinegar into the chard. Stir well and toss in walnut pieces. Decorate with the fig quarters.