Figs are one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world. Remains of fig plants have been found in Neolithic excavations and are discussed in vivid detail on Egyptian papyri.
Some say Buddha gained enlightenment under a Wild Fig (Ficus religiosa) or “Bo” tree, and Greeks claim figs were a divine gift from Demeter. We know the Romans, under the exhortations of Emperor Cato, were willing to conquer all of Africa to maintain an unbroken supply of figs.
Later, Medieval scientists had some pretty fanciful figments of imagination when they entertained the notion that the fig tree was a sort of natural meat-tenderizer. Both Plutarch and Ariosto assert that sacrificed roosters hung upon a fig tree “will presently grow tender and thus fitter for the table”. The idea that somehow the fig tree sent forth a hot and sharp vapor, that was “digesting”, and which “dries and concocts the flesh” is worthy of reflection.
The Spanish held figs in such high regard they sent fig plants with then to the New World where missionary fathers later planted them up and down California from San Diego to Sonoma during the eighteenth century.
Here’s a nice fig tip. Try wrapping a few fresh fig leaves around a piece of salmon before grilling in order to add an intriguing flavor, or perhaps toss a few fig branches onto barbecue coals for fabulous fig-smoked leg of lamb.