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!