Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian
It is well known that the grapevine and olive tree (and long ago, wheat), represent Tuscany. But beneath the icons of wine, olive oil and bread, there are other food symbols that represent our way of life, among these the ﬁg is ﬁrst in line.
There are references to the ﬁg in holy texts, mythology and literature, but it is also showcased in Chianti Territory farm life. Even if in botany, those that we eat taste like ”false fruit”, they are still very enjoyable. The little green, yellow and black “sacks” are delicious, but have almost been forgotten on our table.
This is possibly because when the ﬁg reaches perfect maturity it looks a little dried-up and is not pretty to look at on supermarket shelves. The most common varieties are the green ﬁg and the black ﬁg, one tastier than the other. They should be eaten fresh, bite by bite.
Some peel the ﬁg, but it isn’t indispensable. The ﬁg is best eaten with bread and salami. With a ﬁg in one hand and a piece of focaccia in the other, who can ask for anything more from life?!
It was common to dry ﬁgs on mats. A single dried ﬁg was called a ”borsone”. The preparation of “biccie” was a little more complicated. First, you separated the ﬁg in half, starting with the stem.
After drying the two split halves, you added anise seeds and pressed the halves together. They might not be right for weddings, but are great at Christmas and for the Epiphany.
Another traditional preparation was the round mold where dried, peeled ﬁgs were pressed together with the addition of pieces of walnuts. This was probably the archetype of panforte, or perhaps a poorer version.
A Chianti area resident who has a vegetable garden, or a spacious backyard, should consider planting a ﬁg tree if he already doesn’t have one. It is easy to cultivate and practically needs no help.
You just have to pick the fruit twice a year. It doesn’t grow quickly but produces fruit, shade and satisfaction for many years.
There are three possibilities to have ﬁgs to eat: one is to have your own ﬁg tree, two is to own a piece of land and plant one right away, and the third is to become friends with someone who already has one growing in his back yard!