Figs are one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world. Their remains have been found in Neolithic excavations. They are discussed in some picturesque detail on Egyptian papyri and Chinese ideagrams have described with great characters how Buddha gained enlightenment unper a Wild Fig or Bo tree.
The Greeks claim figs as a special honorarium to them from the goddess Demeter and the Romans, urged on by their extravagant Emperor Cato, were willing to conquer a good part of the African continent in order to maintain a constant fig suppy.
Medieval scientists fancifully imagined the fig tree as a sort of natural meat-tenderizer. Both Plutarch and Ariosto attest rather figorously that “sacrificed roosters hung upon a fig tree will presently grow tender and thus fitter for the table”. This unusual but not outlandis prediction was based on a belief at the time that the fig tree sent forth a “hot and sharp vapor“, that was somehow “digesting“, and would thus “dry and concoct” the flesh.
Interestingly, the milky sap of fig leaves is known as a curative to warts, so there may be some sort of corrosive quallity that could indeed tnderize meat. Fig leaves make a wonderful addition to your barbecue when you roast a leg of lamb and wrapping salmon in fig leaves imparts a delightful flavor,
Spanish Missionary fathers planted figs all along the California coastline from San Diego to Sonoma so California is a fine place to explore the culinary figments of your imagination.
From the Pantry: