Now that all vacation has been used (until the the great giving of gift high holidays), time can once more be resumed on important matters like cooking.
A little history on a very tasty subject first though. Figs. The fruit of a fig tree, I learned today, is not a fruit. It’s a “hollow receptacle entirely lined with tiny flowers, which, in total darkness, manage to bloom and ripen seeds: that ruby or emerald flesh of which so many cultures have been so fond is actually a miniature (and nearly divine) interior carpet of spent blossoms!) (Staub, pp. 86). This doesn’t make the “fruit” any less tasty or valued in medieval times.
The Greeks used the fruit as a preserver, fresh or dried. A bit of cheese, bread and figs were considered a filling and nutritious meal. However any where but the Mediterranean Basin, figs are considered a luxury. In the Mediterranean and Middle East figs were so common that in some place figs went unpicked or unused being so very common. (Toussaint-Samat, pp. 670-1/Rodinson, pp. 149).
Figs have been eaten with pleasure as early as 2900 BC by both the Assyrians and Sumerians. Figs were in Crete by 1600 BC while Xerxes, King of Persia, consumed Attic figs as a reminder of his conquests that produced some thing so delectably exquisite. (Staub, pp. 86)
With all this tastiness and enjoyment going around about a simple but unusual “fruit”, you’d think there would be more recipes dedicated to such an enjoyable item. Unfortunately while the fig is employed IN a great many dishes; the fig is not a star player in recipes as being considered common, oh so very common.