domenica 21 settembre 2014

To eat a fig or not to eat a fig?

As a child my experience related to eating European foods such as figs was limited to tasting squishy Fig Newton cookies at school, probably the result of an unfair trade at snack time. That horrid flavor haunted me for years and prevented me from tasting the fresh figs that I saw all over Italy. 

Everyone in Italy loves figs and eats them from any tree growing alongside the road or hanging over garden fences. They see them as little, sweet treasures to be picked and eaten quickly. They also make fig preserves, they eat figs with ham, they eat them dried like raisins. They even use figs figuratively: non me ne importa un fico secco=it's less important than a dried fig=I couldn't care less). 

Despite all the smiles around figs, I couldn’t bring myself to taste them. The insides of some figs are a deep red color and look like a mysterious animal that lives in the ocean or an exotic, poisonous plant that grows in the jungle. It just bothered me too much, despite the looks of ecstasy on my Italian friends' faces whenever they would eat the little, ripe fruits. 

One year a vacationing tourist made some fig preserves from the fruit he found growing around the area. I tasted the preserves to be polite and I was pleasantly surprised by the mild, sweet flavor. However it was only recently that I started eating fresh figs, and now I can’t stop! These little pods of deliciousness are heavenly!! Try them if you dare. They grow everywhere...but hurry, fig season is almost over!