03
Ago

Figs and honey the lunch of the Gods

When Cato the Elder implored his fellow Romans to fight the Carthaginians, he showed the senators some fresh figs – supposedly from Carthage – to make them see just how close the African city was to Rome. Figs concealed the serpent whose venomous bite killed Cleopatra. The biblical Book of Kings defines peace and wealth as “each man under his own vine and fig tree.” And, of course, fig leaves were what Adam and Eve used to conceal their nudity after having consumed the “forbidden fruit,” which was most likely the product of a fig tree (not an apple tree as is commonly presumed). A chapter of the Koran is named for the fig tree, and Muhammed speaks of the fruit. In the Lysistrata of Aristophanes a young maiden wears a necklace made of dried figs as part of her initiation into womanhood.

Two varieties of fig are cultivated in Sicily. The “Italian White” is actually yellowish green, while the “Italian Black” ripens to a deep purple. (Both are shown here.) They mature at about the same rate, and are ready to harvest beginning in late July.

Undomesticated wild figs also grow in Sicily. The green fruit, though edible, ripens in late August or early September and is small, and relatively bitter, with a thick skin. Like the nobler cultivars, this is a small tree.

In Sicily is usually taste the fresh figs sprinkled with chestnut honey, try it you too!