It had not escaped me that the flora and fauna of the Deep South was much different than what I was used to in the Midwest. The warmer weather all year round meant that more tropical plants and trees could thrive. Still, it was odd to see so many plants and trees I was only use to seeing in photographs or on television or in an encyclopedia. Being the inquisitive young girl that I was, I asked questions and took it all in.
One day, after exhausting much of what there was to do around the grounds of her plantation-sized country home, Suzy suggested we take a walk around her very small town. As we were walking Suzy suddenly stopped and ventured into a yard and walked up to a tree with some sort of odd-looking fruit hanging from it. She plucked one of the fruits from a branch and handed it to me, then plucked one for herself. "What is it?" I asked. "It's a fig!" she replied, smiling at my not having a clue. We didn't have such things as fig trees in Ohio. I knew my grandmother ate "Fig Newtons" all the time, but I never thought they tasted very good. I was a little hesitant to eat a fig because of that, but I was also taught not to be afraid to try new things.
"Are we allowed to take these?" I asked. She went on to say that the lady who lived there let her eat the figs all the time. Suzy bit into the fruit, and I followed her lead. The light sweetness of the fleshy fruit was delightful, and was made even more-so by the warmth the sun had bestowed upon it. It was the best fresh fruit I had tasted up to that point in my life. I savored each bite, standing there in that strangers front yard.
About that moment the lady who owned the fig tree burst out of her front door yelling at us for stealing her figs. Suzy and I took off running full sprint as the lady chased us down the street. After tasting that one single, solitary fig I could understand why the woman wanted them all for herself. We had finally run far and fast enough that we lost her (or she had given up, satisfied that she put enough fear in us that we wouldn't do that again). When we were sure that the coast was clear, we finally stopped to catch our breath, and I looked at Suzy and said, "I thought you said that lady didn't care if you ate her figs?!" Suzy just smiled, cocked her head, and shrugged. It wasn't the last thing Suzy would fib to me about, but it sure made for an interesting summer.
That fresh fig would turn out to be the last one I would have for 35 years. Until yesterday. Oh, I have had dried figs a few times since then, but they just aren't the same as the fresh ones. But yesterday, as I made a trek to one of only two of our local grocery stores which specialize in the upscale and/or more exotic produce and meats, I happened upon a treasure that I had never before seen in my area (I am back in Ohio, by the way)...fresh figs!! As soon as I spotted them I made a bee line and picked up the container and nearly embraced it like a long lost lover, which was kind of embarrassing since my husband was standing right next to me.
I had already told my husband the fig story, so I didn't have to explain my reaction to him. I just said, "Look, Ray! Fresh FIGS! I'm getting them!"
"I have no doubt you are!" he replied, grinning.
I had often wondered if the fact that the one fresh fig I had tasted was thieved, and therefore magnified my memory of how wonderful it was. As soon as I got those babies in the car I plucked one from its resting place and bit into it. No, it wasn't that the forbidden fruit was illicit that made it so good...it was heavenly!
I have eaten about ten of them since yesterday. Even though I am low carb and rarely eat fruit, I must say that the next time fig season comes around I will be buying more. Our ancestors took full advantage of fruits in season, and as long as I don't make fruit a daily menu item, I am just fine.
Plus, as far as fruits go, I could do much worse. This link gives the nutritional information for figs.
Just having been taken back in those memories was well worth it, anyway. ;-)