I found out recently that the fig tree is one of the world’s oldest trees. Often associated with Mediterranean cooking, I have fond memories of picking fresh figs on holidays visiting my Mum’s side of the family in Malta. Which is why I was really excited and a little surprised to come across some locally grown figs this week (mid-August) in North Norfolk.
Figs are in season during the months of September and October here in the UK. They’re rich in minerals and a good source of potassium, manganese and iron. They also contain vitamins A, B and C and include a decent amount of fibre.
Although I was tempted to try these little beauties in a salad combined with cheese, I was too eager to eat them and so went for simplicity. They are absolutely delicious eaten fresh but when baked with a little honey, they caramalise and become a decadent warm, sweet and nutritious breakfast or dessert.
I simply cut the figs in half and covered them with a teaspoon of honey, then baked them for 20 minutes at 200°C and topped them with some yogurt (I like Rachel’s Organic Coconut yoghurt) and some grated dark chocolate truffles (Booja-Booja Hazelnut truffles). If you have any to hand, it also tastes lovely topped with some roasted pistachios.
There’s something quite ‘other worldly’ about figs. They’re a magical looking fruit and often used within biblical stories and folk tales. They’re suppose to symbolize prosperity and security. I believe that Seamus Heaney wrote this following poem in the wake of his mother’s death. In Northern Ireland where Heaney was from, the mother is the centripetal force that holds the world together. Heaney’s poem here implies exactly that, using the image of a tree which had died recently and turned into the idea of a maternal spirit. So it’s because of the fig’s biblical connotations and my very own matriarchal upbringing, that I feel this humble dish of caramlised figs would be best served with The Wishing Tree:
The Wishing Tree
By Seamus Heaney
I thought of her as the wishing tree that died
And saw it lifted, root and branch, to heaven,
Trailing a shower of all that had been driven
Need by need by need its hale
Sap-wood and bark: coin and pin and nail
Came streaming fro it like a comet-tail
New-minded and dissolved. I had a vision
Of an airy branch-head rising through damp cloud,
Of turned-up faces where the tree had stood.