This nutty, sticky tart makes a lovely, indulgent dessert – with earthy, fruity flavours, the delicious crunch of nuts and a rich, luxurious hint of sticky treacle with dark chocolate. This fantastic concoction of flavours combines to make an instantly crowd-pleasing end to any meal! Serve with a fresh pot of tea, or if serving this as a dessert, we recommend with a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream (or pistachio gelato for an Italian twist!).
The common fig fruit (Ficus carica L.) is part of the mulberry family (Moraceae). It originated in northern Asia and spread with the Greek and subsequently the Roman Empires throughout the southern Mediterranean region.
It was Spanish Franciscan missionary monks who first brought the fig to southern California in 1500's, eventually producing to a local Californian variety, appropriately called the 'Mission fig'. Around this time, some international texts confirm the fig was also found in China and England cuisine, with increased international trade and colonialism, these 'exotic fruits' were enjoyed with sweetmeats by merchants and nobles.
Historically the fig tree appears repeatedly in both the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible (with some scholars even believing the forbidden fruit picked by Eve was the fig rather than an apple). Like natural raw honey, there are only a few foods that have been mentioned consistently throughout ancient texts, and figs are one of these.
Further figs represent fertility, peace and prosperity in most world religions including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism.
If you ever wondered what to have for breakfast before your morning run, consider that apparently ancient Greece Olympians even earned figs for their athletic prowess. Just maybe a slice of organic fig jam on toast will give you that extra energy you need!
Sumerian ancient stone tablets dating back to 2500 B.C. record the culinary use of figs (evidence that the cookbook was not a modern creation!) and old fig tree remains have been uncovered during excavations of Neolithic sites from as far back as 5000 B.C. Some historians go so far as to consider it the first of the real 'domesticated crops'.
There are in fact hundreds of varieties of figs worldwide, with consumers in the United States alone finding varieties like Black Mission, Kadota, Brown Turkey and Calimyrna figs. You need hot Mediterranean climates to grow figs. Hence California and Texas are the most significant producers in the USA.
While most travellers are attracted to Corsica for it's great outdoors and scenery (recommended by the Lonely Planet Travel Guide); however we love Corsica for its delicacies! When Italy controlled the island in the 16th century, it mandated that all farmers and landowners plant four trees every year: a chestnut, mulberry, olive and fig trees.
This has helped create lovely thick, dense chestnut forests, which historically were mainly used for Corsican wild bores to feed on, making their meat deliciously sweet. Today in Corsica is well-known for its charcuterie; and in the more remote parts of the island, cars still share the roads with pigs and wild boar roaming free. Tourists like us love them too!
With all the varieties from around the world, Figs come in all shapes and colours, from white, green, red or purplish-black and can be eaten raw and whole or grilled.
There is a reason why figs have existed since ancient times; they are the perfect whole food, that naturally contributes to health and wellness. Figs have a delicious, sweet taste, soft and chewy, slightly crunchy being full of edible seeds.
Fig fruit is very delicate, and they can go off quickly once ripe, so they are often either dried or preserved as jams and fruit spreads.
Word of Caution: Eating too many figs can cause diarrhoea. They are very high in fibre; some people have adverse effects if they consume too many at a time.
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Seán Farrell – Founder, Chateau Rouge