My First Fig

26 Dec
by Francine

Growing up in the midwest and always living in places with cold winters, the only fig I ever encountered where those of the Newton variety which I’ve always found found to be delightfully crunchy.  When I moved to England I started noticing figs from faraway places in the supermarket, but I wanted to hold off on having a fig until I was in a place that had figs growing on a tree. Since it might be that figs are one of the last fruits I’ll get to have for the first time in my lifetime…

I tasted bright pink dragon fruit for the first time in Vietnam and saw the cactus-like way it grows; I was introduced to the very smelly durian by Chinese friends, and I bought fragrant mangosteens from a smiling Chinese fruit vendor after seeing the very cute fruit piled high in all the street market stalls (more on mangosteens in a future post because they are just so delightful).

Anyway, I promised myself that I’d wait to have figs until I was in a place that had figs on their list of local seasonal fruits.A photo of a fig tree  Thankfully this happened sooner than I expected.  We went to Macedonia (the Former Yugoslav Republic) back in September and as we drove from Skopje (the capital) to Lake Ohrid we were amazed at the beauty of this tiny mountainous country. We also noticed its bounty…vines heavy with grapes, watermelons everywhere, and the ripest tomatoes of our lives crowning every dish. 

We arrived at our guesthouse on the shore of Lake Ohrid just as the sun was going down and we sounded like a crazy flock of seagulls muttering ‘wow, wow, wow’ over and over.  It was SO beautiful, seriously one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever visited. 

A photo of the Sunset over lake Ohrid

Our private balcony was framed by creeping vines, purple flowers and an unobstructed view of the lake.  Just when I was thinking that things couldn’t get any better, the jolly and very kind guesthouse owner, Pavel, leaned over our balcony and presented us with a bowl of perfectly ripe figs, asking us if we liked them.  He then pointed to a nearby tree that was completely heavy with ripe figs!A photo of figs

I immediately had one; and as the juice dripped down my chin, I was so glad that I waited to have a fig that was so ripe it would fall of the tree into your hand.  A photo of a figI was pleased to find out that the crunchyness of fig newtons comes from the seeds which are interemingled with the delicate flesh.  And how pretty that tangled flesh is…upon close inspection it looks like a the center of a rose.

I had no idea that Macedonia would have ripe figs, but it was such a wonderful surprise.  If you ever get a chance to visit Lake Ohrid, you must! And if you ever find yourself in Ohrid you must stay at Pavel’s guesthouse (Grebnos Stonehouse Apartments); he was a wonderful and welcoming host with a deep love and pride for his beautiful country of Macedonia.

Do you remember the first time you had a fig?  Have you ever plucked one from the tree?  I’d love to hear!

ps. Sorry it took me 3 months to get this post up…I’ve been wanting to share this figgy tale with you since it happened. ;)  Hope you’re all well…thanks for reading!

7 Responses to “My First Fig”

  1. Susan Walker December 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    I don’t think I’ve ever plucked one from a tree but we do find fresh calimyrna figs here in Northern California at the farmers markets. I have been slow to appreciate fresh figs but they sort of ‘grow on you’ and now I add them to salads with walnuts, little black olives and goat cheese.

    Lake Orhid looks beautiful!

    • realocalcooking December 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      That salad combo sounds good! I’m dreaming of Northern CA…see you soon!!

  2. Rachel@hammeringourwayhome December 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I’ve only ever had fig newtons but wow, that one looks so good! I had no idea they were that large or colorful inside. Your trip sounds awesome! xo

    • realocalcooking December 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      Hi Rach! Yes, they do look cool on the inside…what I didn’t mention is that I spent a long while examining the fig, but I do that whenever I’m curious about something. ;) That one photo may not be an accurate size representation… I’d say the ones I had were the somewhere between the size of an apricot and a peach. Hope you and your family are well!! xo

      • Dotty de Lambert December 30, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

        My husband planted a turkey fig tree when we lived in the East Bay in California, but the tree hadn’t given us any fruit when we sold the house. However, living in Santa Barbara, my neighbor had a prolific fig tree and they were delicious! Thanks for reminding me of their sweetness right off the tree.

      • realocalcooking December 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

        Dotty, good to see you are home. Hope you had a good time for the holidays. Thanks for sharing about your experience with figs. Deanne

      • realocalcooking December 31, 2012 at 7:42 am #

        Thanks for your comment Dotty! I’m glad that this post brought back some memories. Having a prolific fig tree in the neighbourhood sounds like quite the treat!

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