Tuesday, August 9, 2011

0039: Figs

Fig Tree Pic from the Getty Villa in Malibu - beautiful garden!
A couple of days ago I had brunch at the Greenstreet Cafe in Coconut Grove. Aside from a fabulous Bloody Mary I had (I think it was called the Red Geisha...), they had a delicious Fig Salad. I grew up with a fig tree in my back yard - in New Orleans - and remember my brothers and I sitting in the tree eating as many figs as we could bear. They were the Turkey figs (see pic below) and they were amazing! So I ordered the Fig Salad and floated back to a wonderful place. Kind of in between a childhood place of joy with an adult flavor twist. The salad also had aged cheese and candied pecans and was amazing!!!

Although dried figs are available throughout the year, there is nothing like the taste and texture of fresh figs. California figs are available from June through September; some European varieties are available through autumn. (More.)
Stockphoto / Ivan Mateev
If you can't get your hands on some fresh figs, try fig preserves with cheese and prosciutto - some wine on the side if you like wine. So yummy! So maybe this option has a ton of sugar - but in moderation it's wonderful!

A few tidbits to think about (More.):
  • The fig tree was mentioned prominently in The Bible (some scholars even think the forbidden fruit picked by Eve was a fig rather than an apple), but it has been around much, much longer. Sumerian stone tablets dating back to 2500 B.C. record the usage of figs. 
  • Thought to be the sweetest fruit, figs are also one of the oldest fruits recognized by man. Ficus carica, known to us as the common fig, originated in northern Asia Minor. Spaniards brought the fig to America in 1520. 
  • The fig tree can live as long as 100 years and grow to 100 feet tall, although domestic trees are kept pruned to about 16 feet. 
  • In Greek mythology, the fig figures prominently as a gift of Demeter to Dionysus and as having received the blessing and sanctity of the Greek Gods. Plato documented that Greek athletes at Olympia were fed diets of figs to increase their running speed and overall strength. The figs contained up to 50% concentration of sugar, which was virtually, like feeding the athlete a candy bar. (More.)
  • But remember, this is one fruit in which to practice moderation - let's just say it can be a mild laxative... 

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