A FRESH LOOK AT FIGS

Coincidentally, yesterday a girlfriend brought over perhaps five pounds of figs from her own fig tree. I sorted them and ground in a blender the ones too ripe or split for anything except grinding up and freezing in plastic containers, to do something with later on. I melted sugar and later added water to it, to make candied figs. The recipe I am following is a 3-day project, letting the figs cook slowly and then resting for another 24 hours. I think I should have enough for about 4 pints jars.

Then I came across the following article that I posted a few years ago:
A FRESH LOOK AT FIGS BY PAMELA ALLARDIC.

Some years ago, I wrote an article on figs for the University of California Extension Service which, at that time, published a newsletter…the article was “everything I ever wanted to know—and share with the world” on the subject of figs. Oddly, I had titled it, “Who Gives a Fig?”

So, you ask, “What’s the point?” the point is, I had just finished reading (and salivating over) a book newly published in 1994 titled “A FRESH LOOK AT FIGS…TRADITIONS, MYTHS, AND MOUTH-WATERING RECIPES” published by Hill of Content, in 1993. The very first chapter is titled “Who Gives a Fig?” and contains pages and pages (about twenty—I counted) on the history of figs throughout the world, including biblical quotes and superstitions (i.e., the Italians say fig leaves are unlucky and believe that evil spirits lurk in them during the summer months).

There is a wealth of reference material here – for instances, there are over 700 fig varieties in the world, and we learn that the fig is a member of the mulberry family. It is one of the oldest known plants in the world, and some writers have even suggested that the unspecified fruit that Eve offered Adam was actually a fig, not an apple. We do know that the earliest biblical reference to figs is the account of the fall of Adam and Eve, whereby they sewed fig leaves together to form aprons to cover their nakedness.

She discusses how the fig has featured in the mythologies of the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Greeks, as well as in Buddhist beliefs and in Christian tales.

Author Pamela Allardic certainly did her homework—included in this book are two pages of bibliography.

As the previous owner of two prolific fig trees [until we moved to the Antelope Valley in 2008] I was constantly searching for good new fig recipes—and if you have a fig tree or if you just enjoy the taste of figs–Pamela Allardic’s book is for you.

Recipes? Try one o the many desserts—from chocolate fig mousse to fig and ginger pudding…or perhaps figgy pears or figs flambé. There are recipes for figs at Christmas, such as Christmas pudding, or Dutch Christmas bread…a fig and nectarine ice cream, or perhaps figs and mangoes in syrup. The author provides recipes for a Hungarian Fig Wine (that I wish I had tried) and baked figs with cherries and cinnamon…three are recipes for jams, sauces and preserves—from jellied fig and walnut relish to fig and watermelon preserves…fig butter and fig/apple spread.

For the adventurous, who want to try something different, there are recipes for a roast pork with figs and apples, or perhaps you might want to try a Medieval Meatball recipe.

I checked with Amazon.com and was startled to discover that A FRESH LOOK AT FIGS has maintained a distinct value—possibly because so little has been written about figs. Amazon.com has one pre-owned copy price at $16.95. If I can get a fig plant to grow in my back yard, I would be interested in trying. the two fig trees we had in Arleta were prolific.

A FRESH LOOK AT FIGS was originally published in Australia where author Pamela Allardic was editor of NATURE AND HEALTH MAGAZINE and was a regular contributor to AUSTRALIAN COUNTRY STYLE and HOUSE & GARDEN. At the time A FRESH LOOK AT FIGS was published, Allardic had written ten other books with fascinating titles – LOVE POTIONS and MOTHER KNOWS BEST.

Southern Californians may find themselves with a fig tree—last year I discovered that a fellow bowler on the league I had joined –had fig trees. Hers are a different variety from the black mission figs we had in Arleta—these are a small green fig—but they ground up the same way in a blender and I was able to make strawberry fig jam, often called Mock Strawberry Jam. If you enjoy figs—or even have a fig tree, you might want to find a copy of A FRESH LOOK AT FIGS—worth the price if only for the well-written history. i now know that figs grow both in the San Fernando Valley as well as the Antelope Valley (high desert).

–Updated Review by Sandra Lee Smith
My blog 8-10-17

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