Give A Fig


I sat in the kitchen eating a fig. (This sounds like the beginning of a nursery rhyme, doesn’t it?)

It’s funny how you can live to a ripe, middle age (much like a fig) and be completely unfamiliar with some kinds of fruit.

We never ate figs in my childhood home. Dates, yes. Raisins? Sure.  There might have been a prune if the old man was bunged up. But nary a fig in sight. You couldn’t even come upon a casual fig , since no one in the neighborhood had a fig tree.

So half a century slipped by before I got around to a fig. And, I must say, they ain’t half bad!  We made some scrumptious appetizers for a recent dinner party…figs, stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in a smoked duck prosciutto. You put it on the barbeque just long enough to melt the cheese and the duck fat essentially shrink wraps the fig. Nice.

We had a couple of figs left I sat at the table and ate them, unadorned, with lunch.  This is when it suddenly dawned on me that everythingl I know about figs I learned from watching the television series ‘I Claudius ‘ years ago on PBS. The Romans were forever sprawled here and there munching on fruit while some dancer clanged about with finger cymbals. And every so often someone would pass around a plate of figs. That was trouble. Boy, that was trouble…with a capital  ‘ T ‘ that rhymes with ‘ P ‘ and stands for poison. Sometimes the mickey was in the mushrooms, but more often than not it was the figs.

golden statues

Pssst. Want a fig?

And here’s the crazy thing. They knew it. Those Romans knew that every fig had the potential to take you out of the game.  But no one (certainly no one in ‘ I Claudius ‘) ever refused the fruit.  No one said, ‘You know, I’m still a tad full from lunch. I think I’ll pass‘. You’d think the fact that they were carrying bodies out of banquet halls in wheelbarrows might have killed the fig market. You’d think everyone who had their money in fig futures would have been ruined.

But, no. Through the long rise and the fall, emperor after emperor , they munched on.

What do you think about when you eat fresh fruit?


One Response to “Give A Fig”

  1. I long abhorred peaches because the fuzzy skin put me off as a kid. It reminded of that felt-type fabric that used to be in the slot where car windows ‘rolled’ up and down, back when people could still use their arms for more than flipping the bird while driving. But, I gave them another chance this summer because they were looking so appetizing at the Farmers’ Market this summer. Juicy, messy, well worth the second chance.

    Now I’ll think of “I, Claudius” (and you Dave) whenever I see a fig.

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