In Praise of Figs
They are known mostly in the biscuits called Fig Rolls. These have a hard, rather tasteless outside and a squidgy brown sticky middle. As a child, I was never sure about them - - but kept right on eating them, in the hope that this would help me to make up my mind. I didn't know what a real fig would look like and in fact didn't see one for years.
Of course, in earlier times, Syrup of Figs was known as a cure for constipation so people - in Britain at least - thought of them as a kind of medicine and not there for pleasure at all.
Then, about ten years ago, somehow I acquired some fresh figs and wasn't sure about them. They have an outside that tastes of - - well, freshness I think is the best way to describe it. There are lots of tiny, sweet, sticky seeds in the middle and the whole thing takes a bit of getting used to.
Whilst I was seeing if I might get used to them, I threw a bit of fig out of the window, because it was a bit too ripe.
I thought no more about it until some time later a shoot with strange leaves appeared.
"Where did you get the fig tree from?" asked a friend of ours who happened to see it.
Ohhhh yes, of course. Fig leaves. Mainly known for covering Adam and Eve's naughty bits.
The fig tree grew for several years, I loved its rather exotic look. It happened to be in a sheltered spot so managed to survive in these chilly Northern climes. It was just beginning to produce figs when sadly it was blown down in a gale.
These days, because of my diabetes, I don't eat many sweet things, apart from fruit. I saw some figs in the supermarket and thought I'd give them a try.
I loved them. They tasted of hot summer evenings. Whilst they're in season, I keep buying some every time I see them in the shops.
The checkout man today wasn't impressed with the ones I bought today, though.
"In my country the figs are much bigger than this," he said. "The ones you get here are the size of cranberries in comparison."
So, of course, I asked him where he was from and it was Croatia. The Communist helped to build a road there just after the Second World War. I wonder whether they ate any of these large Croatian figs in the breaks between digging.