14 Jul2010

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Figs were hanging heavy on trees in several locations on our recent trip to Spain and Morocco. I have seen fig trees before, but never really had a chance to see really healthy trees up close. They are stunning. Huge green leaves and stunning fruit appearing in sort of clusters around certain branches of the tree. I now fully understand why they used fig leaves to cover their unmentionables, they are rather sturdy and larger than the palm of your hand…

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In Spain we saw fruiting fig trees in Toledo, while in Morocco we saw them during a countryside tour and in herb/floral gardens towards the Atlas mountains. Cultivated for millenia, figs are luscious, sweet and juicy — one of my favorite fruit of all time. And I rarely get to eat them fresh in Manila so it was an absolute joy to find ripe ones in the markets of Madrid and Marrakech…

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There are many, many varieties of figs, and I tend to like the ones with dark skins that are rather elongated and burst at the “seams” when ripe and ready to be eaten. Or do all figs get dark when ripe?

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For dinner one evening in Madrid, we purchased several luscious figs, and 120 grams of the finest Jamon Iberico de Bellota and munched on them in our hotel room.

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Like prosciutto and melon, the saltiness of the ham pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the fruit. These figs were perfect, soft yet not overripe. Sweet but not cloyingly so. Incredible texture that seems so unique to figs.

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No utensils required. :)

P.S. Figs are “igos” in Filipino. Other fruit names translated, here.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. silly lolo says:

    You have discovered the Italian secret weapon! Italians have waged war over figs! Crazy good, them Italians.
    BTW: Did BettyQ’s sex change operation come out OK?

    Jul 14, 2010 | 8:27 pm

     
  2. Marketman says:

    silly lolo, good to have you back. BettyQ is recuperating, from what I can tell… I am surprised you resisted the temptation to explore figs and Freud…

    Jul 14, 2010 | 8:32 pm

     
  3. JunB says:

    Hahaha Silly Lolo from which to which did he/she change :)….Good to see you back again !!!

    Jul 14, 2010 | 8:51 pm

     
  4. JunB says:

    Last december I bought a fig at Tanglin Mall supermarket for S$9 (3pcs). It’s really expensive I believe and with the Jamon Iberico of S$49 per 100gm that small meal cost roughly P2000. An expensive treat but for me it’s worth once in a while ;)

    Jul 14, 2010 | 8:56 pm

     
  5. Footloose says:

    Anything to do with sex , even (or specially) figs will draw Silly Lolo back. Or is it the typhoon?

    They started coming here (in Toronto) oh round thirty years ago, first to the ethnic markets, predominantly Italians and Greeks, let’s say Mediterranean but now have become mainstream but so have tropical fruits and vegetables. They come in different colors; green and purple as your photos above and yellow and in different shapes and sizes too, just like plums.

    There is a painting by Diego Velazquez showing a drinking water vendor proffering a glass with a fig in it. See here http://emptyeasel.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/thewater-sellerofsevillebydiegovelazquez.jpg They seem to have used it to cool the water down a couple of degrees or else to add some sort of fresh flavor to the water. And the leaves’ utility is not strictly limited to foiling impropriety, I came across a mention in Culinaria that one or two fig leaves are allowed to sit overnight in the milk intended for use in flan for the sweetish flavor it imparts.

    Jul 14, 2010 | 9:07 pm

     
  6. Dred says:

    Nice :) btw, finally got you in tonight’s replay of AB: no reservations! Hehehehe.

    Jul 14, 2010 | 9:09 pm

     
  7. thelma says:

    i miss our huge fig tree when we sold our house. we
    harvested a lot every year…even the birds have a feast from
    those succulent fruits!
    bettyq, take care and get well soon!

    Jul 14, 2010 | 9:27 pm

     
  8. Jean says:

    Two of my hands-down, favorite foods. The figs are a-plumpin’ here in the Old North State as I write this!

    Jul 14, 2010 | 9:41 pm

     
  9. EbbaBlue says:

    When we were stationed in Jacksonville, NC we rented a house in the suburbs of Richlands. The area is mostly southern type ranch fields, and the house we rented has a huge backyard and a creek. And right behind the house is a semi-large fig tree which the neighbors said was one of the best quality. Well, I had figs before and was not that crazy about it, and so I let my neighbor gather the fruit for her households in exchange for their suchinni squash. I saw her 7 yr. old daughter eating with gusto purple color figs right there as they were picking the ripe ones. Came short winter and the leaves turn brown, and fell off, and then spring and oh gosh, they were full of these green looking like “small bayabas”. And in April/May, oh to my amazement, I cannot hardly see the leaves of this tree, just fruits… and bees..It was so thick. What a sight. Until now though I still not too fond of figs…

    Jul 15, 2010 | 12:28 am

     
  10. kurzhaar says:

    A truly ripe fig is a joy. They are a special treat for me now as they do not grow in the colder climate of the northeast. But they grow in many places back home in CA. I used to make fresh fig ice cream, which is absolutely gorgeous in color.

    Figs do come in many varieties, and their color ranges from yellowish to green to purple or brown or near-black when ripe. Many have beautiful pink flesh, others are pale (almost white) or greenish inside. I like the yellow Kadota figs and the purple Mission figs. A stand at the farmers’ market I used to frequent often sold up to a dozen varieties of fig.

    Marketman, I’m surprised you do not get them often, surely they can be grown there? I have had fresh figs in tropical Mexico and Hawaii so I know they can grow in such climates.

    Jul 15, 2010 | 5:15 am

     
  11. natie says:

    healthy figs alright..beautiful!
    Silly Lolo is back!!!

    Jul 15, 2010 | 6:03 am

     
  12. marilen says:

    ay ya yay Silly Lolo is back!! figs and jamon iberico – what a dream combo!! reminds me of a true story (came with photos) I read – an Italian grandson treasured a fig tree grown by his lolo, that each late fall after harvest, he would ‘gently’ lay the tree to rest, by digging a trench and somehow bending the trunk and branches into the ground and covering with mulch etc to protect against the winter (this here in frozen Illinois) and somehow coax it back to life in the spring. a fig, I believe it was, the forbidden fruit in paradise. Love them fresh or dried.

    Jul 15, 2010 | 7:16 am

     
  13. Clarissa says:

    Ooooo. I have never tried fresh figs ever in my life. And I highly doubt that a pack of Fig Newtons will make me feel like I’m eating the real thing :)

    Jul 15, 2010 | 7:58 am

     
  14. elit says:

    I’ve never had fresh figs before. Only the ones in fig newtons hehehe. I didn’t even know that they can be eaten dried as is. My friend brought some dried figs from Iran. i didn’t even recognise them as figs and didnt know how to eat it. it was very good actually and quite addicting too!

    Jul 15, 2010 | 9:21 am

     
  15. Marketman says:

    elit and Clarissa, I LOVE Fig Newtons. Love them. :)

    Jul 15, 2010 | 9:24 am

     
  16. kurzhaar says:

    I foresee … Marketman’s reports on home-made fig newtons. :)

    I grew up on fig newtons but won’t eat them today (read the ingredient list, eewww!) but either eat fresh or dried figs or buy the Trader Joe’s take on fig newtons, “this fig walked into a bar”. I am not much of a baker but a friend of mine made a home-made version that was absolutely scrumptious. I wish now I’d asked for the recipe–I recall butter in the dough and the filling was basically cooked-down fresh figs from a tree in her yard.

    Jul 15, 2010 | 9:54 am

     
  17. Marketman says:

    kurzhaar, more a more sophisticated take on that childhood favorite fig newtons, try this fig tart I made a few years ago…

    Jul 15, 2010 | 10:47 am

     
  18. kurzhaar says:

    Thanks, Marketman. I’ve been buying at the various farmers markets since the season here is short compared to CA, but I’m going to see if I can find fresh figs (usually CA-grown) as I prefer them to dried and try out a tart of sorts. I have an easy-peasy tart crust that’s based on ground almonds and I think that might be good with the figs.

    I should have added that what I recall of my friend’s recipe is that the dough was laid out in a rectangle, the fig filling added, and then the dough folded over to make a long strip. She cut it up into squares after it was baked and it looked for all the world like a fig newton.

    Jul 15, 2010 | 12:09 pm

     
  19. Footloose says:

    In an article on commercial cookie development (in the New Yorker, I think) it was mentioned that almost all cookies fresh out of the oven are great. It is when they have been sitting in the market shelves for months on end that their flavor, texture and appeal start to crumble. That’s when the additives come in. Anyway, does anyone notice the resemblance between mooncake crust and fig newton crust or is it just a pigment of my imagination?

    Jul 15, 2010 | 7:33 pm

     
  20. millet says:

    so if there is a filipino term for figs, does that mean we have local figs? i’ve seen a few fig trees in gen san but they were brought over by OFWs from the middle east.

    Jul 15, 2010 | 8:23 pm

     
  21. Footloose says:

    The closest local relative of the edible common fig (ficus carica) is our pakiling or isis (ficus odorata). Never tried biting into one since it is covered with abrasive hair. In fact the leaves would not be suitable as a modesty covering at all, we used them as wet sandpaper.

    Jul 15, 2010 | 8:44 pm

     
  22. Rona Y says:

    I loooooove figs!

    When I lived in Japan, and fresh figs were plentiful in the fall, I would often use them for an easy dinner. Just sliced figs on saltine crackers, topped with either bleu cheese, camembert, or brie, and heated in my toaster oven for a short time. Mmmmmm. . .

    If you can get some good dried figs and also good olives, fig and olive tapenade is really wonderful. I use the recipe on David Lebovitz’s website, and have turned many people on to both figs and olives through it!

    Jul 16, 2010 | 11:13 am

     
  23. Jack Hammer says:

    Figs with Cheese and Champagne !!!! my favourite Dessert.

    The purple variety is my favourite and I can eat them by the kilo. I don’t think all figs go dark when ripe. They are very common here in the middle east.

    I love the dried figs too. Handy snack which gives good fiber for digestion. I would trade dried figs over Chocolate any day.

    Jul 17, 2010 | 3:31 am

     
  24. ntgerald says:

    When I first saw figs in the corner market in Pittsburgh, I asked the Italian lady who manned the store what they were.
    She told me they were figs, from California.
    So, I asked how does one eat them. As in, do you peel? etc etc
    She must have been bewildered at meeting someone who has never seen fresh figs.
    “How do you eat them?….Let me see. You take them from the box and put them in your mouth…?

    Jul 17, 2010 | 6:24 am

     
  25. ange says:

    Mmmmmmmm… the stuff that dreams are made of :D

    Jul 20, 2010 | 12:53 am

     
  26. Maria Rowena Rillen-Rizzi says:

    I had the most fun time yesterday, picking figs at husband’s family farm in Piove di Sacco, Padova. We picked up a case of figs and some of them are really ripe, so I made some fig jam- it was really nice, I put a little bit of cardamon and vanilla and it came out really good!Fig trees has a lot of resin.. so be careful when picking it!

    Aug 23, 2010 | 11:21 pm

     
 

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