Are you familiar with this fruit?
They are called Figs and are native to the Middle East and Mediterranean areas.
The Fig has been around since the beginning of time, being one of the first fruits to be cultivated by humans, many, many, many years B.C. as far as I have read somewhere!
Figs are mentioned in the Bible on more than one occasion:
Adam and Eve wore fig leaves to hide their nakedness.
(We will return to this topic later.)
Jesus encountered a fig tree, and that fig production is noted in the book Songs of Solomon.
The Fig is also one of the foods on the list of items to be found in the Promised Land therefore, they are in the Torah.
In addition, Figs appear to have cultural and religious-based traditions and are mentioned in the Quran, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Therefore, it is safe to it assume that the Fig is a very special fruit.
Figs may be eaten fresh or dried.
They may also be made into jams.
Large-scale fig cultivation may be found in the Mediterranean, Iran, Turkey, California on a smaller scale.
They are listed as one of the highest plant sources of Calcium, fiber, Vitamins A & C.
(Please note eating too many at one time may cause a laxative effect. Details to follow.)
The Chinese refer to the Fig as the fruit without flower.
PHOTOS AT RIZZO BANQUET HALL
This completely describes this fruit.
Shaped somewhat like a bulb with a thin furry or hairy skin (exterior), when the Fig is ripe, the green exterior turns purple.
Once open you will find the flesh on the inside contains up to an hundred edible seeds with what appears to be flowers arranged on the inside. Unusual, yes!
Some Figs are very soft and sweet with green on the inside.
Fresh Figs are a treasure. Try one, no, try two!
Kids will love the sweetness of the dried Fig.
Pack a few in their lunchbox.
They will love you for that special treat.
Having been born in Kalamaki, Athens, Greece which is an area in which in every third or fourth house has a Fig tree in the backyard. I know my figs.
Unfortunately, we did not have a tree in our back yard but our neighbour had one.
The tree grew at such an angle that all the branches and the fruits were in our back yard.
Even the owner of the tree asked my parents for permission to pick Figs.
As you know, I am unable to close my recipe discussion without incorporating a bit of comedy.
Cutting a Fig from the Fig Tree becomes an event for children.
I would like to pause here for a moment to make a parallel.
A few years ago during a visit to Costa Rica, Central America, at the invitation of the Cacia Organization I mentioned in my speech to the Organization and attendees that at the present time I was the largest importer of Coconut Milk and Coconut Products into Canada, however, I had never seen a real Coconut Tree in my life - until my visit to Costa Rica.
This statement brought roaring laughter to the audience and lightened the atmosphere!
You may read about my experience in Costa Rica in my book: Costa Rica, The World's Best Kept Secret!
The parallel is that there are many people who may be familiar with a Coconut Tree, a Banana or a Mango Tree, yet may have never seen a Fig Tree.
Does this make any sense to you? I hope it does!
So then, imagine a very big tree with very, very long branches whose leaves are approximately one foot long(12 inches/30 centimeters) in diameter.
The leaves are so thick that they produce a heavy shadow and if you cut one leaf, a milky substance emerges.
There is a saying in the Mediterranean that if you fall asleep in the middle of the daytime under a Fig Tree you will almost feel like you are passed out, dead.
It is important to let you know that at least in Greece, because of the climate, in the Summer months, businesses close at 1:00 p.m. and reopen at around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m.
And if you think that in Caribbean that the temperature of 30 to 33 degrees is hot, in Greece during these hours the temperature reaches 42 to 49 degrees, if you walk on the asphalt roads your should sink into the tar.
(Some day, should you visit Greece, you may leave your footprint in the tar.)
During the period intermission (which some call a Siesta) most people retreat to the beach or sleep somewhere in a shade because of the heat.
It is also important too that there must be no traffic on the streets and pretty well the whole of Athens is like a Ghost Town.
If you dare blow your horn or make a noise, should the police catch you the judge will probably impose the death penalty.
I have never personally heard of any one being so judged, because no one ever attempted to challenge the law.
Can you image us kids now - we have already invaded Dracula's Castle on Dracula Boulevard (in the middle of the night), collected Lemons, received such good beatings from our mother (parents), our skins were now as thick as the leaves of the Fig Tree.
We were building up immunity. What the mierda was another beating.
(You may read how I got the Mierda kicked out of me in the book, Latino Masa Creation.
(What a book you have to read it sometimes.)
Back to our siesta time and The Fig Tree.
So now, we all knew that everyone would be asleep at around 1:30 p.m.
One of the kids suggested that Maria Papanikolopoulos' house had a Fig tree full of ripe figs.
So then, now the plan included a meeting at 1:30 p.m. at that location.
Of course, we had to make sure that there was no moving activity whatsoever.
We had our special doggie treat, a nice big bone to keep the dogs quiet.
In addition, Kiria Maria was sleeping outside snoring, along with her cat.
(The word "Kiria" means Madam in Greek, or Mrs. in English.)
Quietly and almost invisibly, our troop of one dozen boys and girls descended upon the tree.
We climbed the Fig Tree, and walked very carefully like acrobats or maybe monkeys across the long branches, positioned ourselves and within an hour there were no Figs left on the tree!
This time we were not going to get any beatings. We ate the Figs right off the tree, including the skins, thereby leaving no evidence.
What a story! This would make a good Little Rascals episode.
Yes indeed: We ate our bellies full.
Needless to say, the Figs in the Mediterranean Area are so, sooohh wonderful, sooohh soooooohhh sweet, sooohhh delicate,and so,soooh, sooohhh on.
I cannot explain it to you. You will to have to visit the area and experience it for yourself.
In my lifetime, I have had some Figs here in Canada imported from somewhere, the taste of which has no relationship to what I have experienced.
I recall an experience, approximately 30 years ago, when I was in one of the supermarkets.
I found a few cans of Aurora brand Figs in light syrup, I purchased a few cans.
When I opened them up at home, and tasted them, it was the next best thing to the real thing.
When I phoned my competitor and friend, Nunzio Tumino, owner of Aurora Foods to tell him about my experience, my pleasure with the product and that I needed some more, he informed me that he had made a batch on an experimental basis only, and that unfortunately, the Canadian market was not ready to accept and pay the price for such a product.
Therefore, he lost his money, the same way that I lost money on my Green Lima Bean product intro.
I presume that every innovative businessman may have experienced a similar sad story or episode at least once.
Years passed, I immigrated to Canada, started a business, married, had a son, blah, blah, blah.
Then one unfortunate slip and fall on a cold winter's night caused me to break and shatter every bone in my left leg.
Hospitalization, rehabilitation, misinformation and panic by my bankers resulted in significant losses.
A few years later, after working night and day, day and night and hours in between, to bring the business up again, I decided to take a week off and visit Greece with my son, Panos who was then about 3 years old.
This was my first visit back to my homeland and it was also my first vacation.
While there, we visited a Flea Market in Athens.
It seemed like the whole of Europe was there.
There were endless displays of products, knick-knacks, fruits, etc. It was an outside event in the area called Monastiraki, which is located just in the foothills of the Acropolis, Parthenon.
The pain in my leg came into my consciousness and I felt the need to sit down.
I noticed a vendor selling large, beautiful Figs.
The memories flooded in...My backyard, Kiria Maria, siesta and the Figs, the wonderful, delicious, Figs.
With a quick short explanation, I asked him to vacate his seat.
I sat down and told him to simply start peeling Figs until I told him to stop.
I ate Fig after Fig after Fig. Poor Panos, he ate and smiled at DaDa.
Finally, finally, I had had enough. Time to pay - by counting the number of Fig skins, about 40 Figs.
Phew! That was the real Mckoy. Each one sweeter than the next.
What a memorable experience in more ways than one.
Now it was time to go. Pay the guy and continue my tour. Unitl I heard the Athens Symphony Orchestra. It seemed like it was coming from a nearby concert location but I realized that it was coming from my stomach.
I am writing this for Mr. Goudas. He did not want to say it but, I am the typist and I will say it: "Holy Shit!"
Looking for a restroom with a million people around is a disaster.
An earthquake is about to erupt. "Holy moley, curly and moe."
What an event! Me with my limp, semi-running with one hand holding my son and the other my bum.
People looked at me suspiciously. A white man, running funny, dragging a black kid with one hand, the other hand behind his back, asking for a restroom!
(Should my life story become a movie, this would be a wonderful scenario!)
Eating too may Figs causes you to HAVE TO USE THE BATHROOM.
I believe that day I used every bathroom in the Flea Market.
I certainly left my mark all over Athens, Greece!
I have to mention that whenever any of my friends visited Greece I always requested that they bring me a Fig Tree. Well, one year I finally got one.
A friend of mine brought me back a potted tree with leaves about 3 inches.
It bore one small Fig every year.
One day a friend of mine by the name of George Hall visited me and inquired about the tree.
I explained that it was a real Fig tree with the leaves like Adam and Eve wore.
I also mentioned to him that there is a history about the Fig Tree in particular about the leaves which Adam and Eve wore. I also told him that the Greeks used the fig leaves in mythology.
George Hall never missed an opportunity. He looked at the tree one more time and he visualized the size of the leaf to be no more than 3 inches.
He laughed and said, You Greeks are not really size fanatics such little leaves to cover everything!
Hope you enjoyed My Fig Tree Story and will indulge yourself in a Fig or Two from the Mediterranean of course.
Spyros Peter Goudas