Fig – The Fruit of Philosophers.


Historical records show that Plato considered figs “the philosopher’s fruit”, although it is unclear what he meant by this thought.

Fig belongs to the genus ficus in the moracea (mulberry) family and is neither a flower nor a fruit in the traditional sense, although today colloquially, it is considered fruit.

The fig tree is one of the tow sacred trees of Islam, is of importance to Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains. The fig tree is also cited in the Bible.

There are over 800 fig tree species, which may be hermaphrodite or gynodiocious (both hermaphrodite and female). The “fruit” of hermaphrodite trees is considered to be inedible for humans, and good only for goats.

Fig trees

grow from Afghanistan west to Portugal, and all over the Mediterranean basin.

In the U.S.A., California is a large producer and exporter of figs.

For millennia, figs have been treasured throughout the Mediterranean basin for their honey-sweet flesh, rich nutritional properties, and sensual appearance.

According to Pliny the Elder, a famous Roman writer and senator, figs are restorative and most suitable food for people suffering from long illnesses.

Figs are very nutritious, are high in fibre and antioxidants, and contain high amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, and range of vitamins. Figs are thought to be of value to prevent colon cancer due to their laxative properties.

Turkey is the largest fig producer (approximately 90,000 tons per annum) followed by Spain, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries.

The skin may be green, lilac or brown.  The following varieties are planted – Celeste, Magnolia, Adriatic, Kadota, Black Mission, Smyrna, Brown Turkey, and Calimyrna.

Figs both are highly perishable lasting no longer than two to three days after picking. California producers ship in specially designed containers to protect the fragile fruit by air cargo all over the North American continent, which renders the fruit comparably more expensive than others. For this reason, a large proportion of figs are dried and used in pastries, mixed in bead doughs, or stuffed with nuts, or coated with chocolate, and in fruit salads.

Italian gastronomic restaurants serve thinly sliced Parma ham on fresh figs in season.

In North America more often than not, restaurants use melon.

In Spain, cold almond soup with dried figs and Iberico ham enjoys popularity with gourmets.


Comments are closed.