Figs in Turkey
What do you know about Figs? Growing up in the Midwest United States, I don’t ever remember seeing a fig before coming to Turkey. I still remember the first time I ate a fig. A friend had offered to take me and my American buddies to his home town of Gaziantep, a city about 3 hours to the East of Adana. As we were taking the scenic route out to Antep, we had pulled off to the side of the road to take pictures and we noticed a man selling some soft green fruit on the side of the road. Somehow we identified them as figs and decided to try them. I’d never tasted anything like it before. This soft fruit was so juicy and thick on the inside. It tasted outstanding, but I’m not sure if I liked it or not. If I recall, it was just too foreign to me. It was like a fruit filled with honey. They reminded me nothing of Fig Newton cookies that I’d had occasionally growing up. I’ve come to love this Mediterranean fruit especially dried, which we’re able to eat year round here in Adana.
- Two Facts about fig production: Turkey is the world’s #1 producer of figs. California produces 98% of all US figs.
I was excited to learn a lot about figs from Jason Akers of The Self-Sufficient Gardener podcast. He had a great episode about growing figs at home which was very informative. I really encourage you to check out his podcast about figs. In this podcast, he provided a ton of great info about the history of the fig tree. One thing I learned is that the fig tree plays a significant role in every world religion, and even big tree that was the religious center in the movie Avatar was modeled after a fig tree. Obviously in the Bible, we learn that fig leaves are large enough to cover our private parts when shame first entered the world through the sin of Adam and Eve.
Jason’s podcast contains many other great facts and antidotes about figs along with instruction in how to care for fig trees. I was interested to learn the even in a climate like Minnesota, it’d be possible to grow Fig trees by simple pruning them and protecting the plants from the cold over the winter.
I’ve tried growing figs on my balcony, but haven’t had any success with my fig tree. It just grows a few bunches of leaves and one fig. Then the leaves get brown and the birds eat the fig before it ripens. Booo..
If you haven’t tried figs, I encourage you to get out and try some dried figs, and if you happen to see them fresh at a farmer’s market or grocery store this summer, do try them out. They’re like nothing you’ve ever eaten before. For readers in the United States, you can find a great deal on dried figs at Tulumba.com.
This is how we enjoy them most here in Adana.
Heat up the dried figs (both sides) on a hot frying pan. Just warm them up, don’t cook them, then dip them in tahini (Sesame butter) and eat it with walnuts. It’s a great and healthy snack… it only ceases to be healthy when you can’t stop eating them.