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Fabulous figs

The ancient fruit is in high season and makes a perfect companion to prosciutto and goat cheese.

Darrell Wong/Fresno Bee/MCT/Newscom

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The Newtons. What a wonderfully diverse family. We all know of Sir Isaac, and his affinity for mathematics, physics, and apples. Then there's Wayne, "Mr. Las Vegas." (Never seen him. Never care to.) And that most popular family member, and my close childhood companion, Fig.

Fig Newtons were a staple in my parents' home. They were the one store-bought cookie that Mother thought worthy of dessert. "Eat them; they're good for you," she'd say as she passed them around the dinner table. And when other kids were pulling Twinkies from their Roy Rogers lunchboxes at school, my soggy tuna sandwich was accompanied by a couple of … guess what?

As an adult, my fondness for fresh figs is an ongoing culinary adventure. It began a number of years ago when I purchased a young fig tree from a local nursery. My tender shrub wasn't fit for wintering in the outdoors in the chilly Northeast, but it thrived in my greenhouse. The yield was scant, cherished, sweet, juicy, and delicious. It didn't take long for me to become a convert.

Ten years ago, fresh figs were rarely available in supermarkets unless you lived in California, where most figs in the United States are grown.

Historically, they are an ancient fruit, going back thousands of years to Asia, through Egypt, into the Mediterranean, and finally to the US, where they were brought to California by Spanish missionaries in the 1500s.


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