Fig: a sensual fruit and a bashful leaf!
The fig, a very antique fruit originating in Asia Minor, was introduced into the Middle-East four millennia ago, reaching Greece in the 8th Century and then Rome, from which it spread throughout the Mediterranean. The Spanish then brought it across the Atlantic. The fig has played a fundamental role in people’s diets wherever it has gone, eaten fresh, cooked and dried, accompanying savory and sweet dishes, it has been at the very center of culinary inventiveness since the dawn of time. Beyond, the fig and its avatars have been at the heart of the symbolism of many civilizations. For example, it is the first fruit mentioned in the Bible and certain scholars argue that the fig was the forbidden fruit, and not the apple. Notwithstanding this claim, it’s true that when Adam and Eve became bashful of their nudity after committing the original sin, they covered their private parts with fig leaves. This usage was renewed in the Middle-Ages to cover the nudity of antique sculptures and early paintings. This same dichotomy, between sensuality and discretion, is to be found in numerous societies, from India to the Americas, via Africa. This fascination probably stems from the ambiguous shape of the fig, both masculine and feminine, which makes it an object of desire as well as reprehension, as does its taste which is sensually glutinous, providing a degree of pleasure that some consider to be almost transgressive. There are today over 750 varieties of figs – white, red and purple – produced in significant quantities in at least 50 countries across the world.