Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Figs Figs Figs!

I have loved fresh figs for as long as I can remember. My parents own a house that is divided into a few rental units. When I was a little girl, sometimes I would end up at that house with my mom if she had some work to do. I specifically remember a few wallpapering projects with my mom (and maybe my grandma?). I come from a line of industrious women!

This rental house also has a fig tree. You have to go through the side gate and down a little path with lots of big plants on either side - plants that are especially big if you are still a little kid. Then, at the end of the path, on the right side, there is a fig tree tucked into a corner.

my earliest fig memories

On the rare occasion that I was at that house "helping" my mom, and it happened to be summer, and there happened to be fresh figs -- she would pick one and share it with me. That is my earliest memory of eating fresh figs. Right off the tree with my mom, in a manner that made the whole affair feel very rare and special.

you have to give the fig a gentle squeeze. it should be so soft and smooshy

In college, I spent several months living in Italy, where fig trees literally grow like weeds. Imagine the abundance!! The first summer I ever studied with my painting teachers (20+ years ago), there was an enormous fig tree right outside of the rustic house where we stayed. We were a group of highly emotional, slightly sloppy, 20-year old art students from around the world - tormented by our own egos. But, we knew enough to recognize the inherent Truth and Beauty in a giant fig tree right outside our front door. Day after day we could fill huge bowls with gigantic, perfectly ripe figs.

the inside of a fig is beautiful and weird and mysterious and delicious!
who comes up with these things???

I'm not sure when my grandparents planted their fig trees, but later in my life, my fig focus turned toward their house. I think they had two big fig trees: a King Fig (the green ones -- my favorite!) and a Mission Fig (the black ones -- also great!). After they died, and my aunt Laura and her partner moved into the house... many more fig trees were planted! I think they have seven fig trees now!! I am not the only one around here who loves figs, obviously. ha ha. 

So, recently, my aunt Laura called to tell me that the Mission Fig was bursting at the seams with perfect figs and did I want to come pick some. ... YES! We had such a lovely visit together, picking figs and eating figs and chatting. The garden at that house is filled with a lifetime of sacred memories for me -- Easter egg hunts, picking raspberries with my grandma, picking grapes with my grandpa, smelling the lemon verbena bush each and every time we walked past it, inspecting the seedlings in the greenhouse, summers when I was paid to water their vegetable gardens when they were out of town, wheelbarrow rides where my grandpa would push us around one at a time in the wheelbarrow... I could go ON and ON.

It means so much to me to be able to visit that space and share it with my aunt who I love so much... and to continue to eat the lovely figs that the trees still provide, so many years after my grandparents planted them.

the figs we picked!!

Breakfast: family figs, white nectarine, Chef Brad's VVC Chia Pudding, hot coffee


  1. What a sweet story!! I am so envious of your fig bounty. They are my all-time favorite fruit, but really expensive in Iowa. A very small container of them is $6. They are available for only a short amount of time, and since I love them so much, I'll usually give in and buy them a few times. It's hard, because I know how inexpensive and plentiful they were in LA when I lived there. That's where I fell in love with them. BTW, did you know that figs are inverted flowers? I think that makes them even more magical.

    1. Anonymous5:52 AM

      Whoa! That does make figs all the more magical!

  2. Great post!

    I only discovered fresh figs as an adult (they don't grow where I live) and they are pretty good, but I'm so not used to them that sometimes I don't know how to pick a fruit... and sometimes they are overripe. I agree about the weird-looking flesh... it seems even weirder in the green fig... I did not even know there was such a thing as green figs.

  3. Anonymous3:22 AM

    How lovely! Fig trees always remind me of spending time on my granny's farm when I was little - she had so many trees that were great for climbing, and there were always jars of homemade fig jam about the place. Also, in a sharehouse my boyfriend lived in for a while, he had a little fig tree trying to grow from outside into his room - it somehow was growing through a crack in the corner!!

  4. Ah, figs...I love them. Thanks for sharing your earliest fig appreciation remembrance. An abiding fig memory of mine is plucking fresh figs from trees in the south of France, 20 years ago, during a cross-country bike ride. No fig since has ever tasted as magical (though many have come close!).


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