A dear friend, who not only creates and prepares some of the most delicious meals on the planet, but also writes exquisitely about food, wrote an enticing and slightly sexy piece about figs. I was inspired. Although when it comes to figs, I’m easy.
This ancient fruit may indeed be the first cultivated fruit in the Middle East, but for those of us living in the US, we can be grateful that California has risen to become the third largest producer of figs in the world, just behind Greece and Turkey. For some riveting facts about figs and their rich history, the California Fig Advisory Board supplies a healthy dose of interesting tidbits.
This unlikely sexy food only makes a brief appearance and sadly does not last very long nor refrigerate well – I suppose this is why dried figs are so popular!
Figs are attributed with mighty powers and without going into serious research as to the veracity of these claims, I will only say that there are some wild claims as to this fruit’s ability to cure or heal everything from ‘sexual weakness’ (?) and venereal disease to bowel health, diabetes, earaches, abscesses and asthma.
All I know from experience is that experiencing fresh, ripe figs is a sensual experience – with their plump, round shape and multi-textured sweet meat and fun tiny seeds, figs are a riot of taste and sensation.
What is slightly more documented is the Fig’s potent mineral and fiber content. Figs are high in vitamins A, B1 and B2 and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese. According to one Suite 101 writer, dried figs have 250 mg of calcium / 100 g, which is more than 100 g of whole milk, which only contains 118mg!
I was really turned on to the magic of figs a couple of years ago when attending a Suppers Program, which is a program about getting back to basics in whole food nutrition. It was held at a woman’s home in Princeton and we all went out to raid her garden and each of us came up with a recipe (she had obviously purchased some of the main course/protein stuff). I was immediately attracted to her fig tree, which was full and ready for my greedy hands. I created a simple and delicious Fig & Tomato salad (the recipe is at the end of this old post) using fruit from her garden. Yum.
I’ve got fig tree envy, but know without any doubt that the vigorous and tenacious critters would never let one grow in my back yard. I’ll have to rely on my local producers (or my grocery store if desperate) during the short growing season.
My advice is to RUN don’t walk to find some of these sensual treats!