“Peel a fig for a friend and a peach for your enemy” – English proverb
I love figs. Such an ancient fruit, yet still with us today … I also agree with the believe that figs are a symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness. So when my eyes caught a few fresh figs on the shelf in the supermarket the other day, I had to have them and do something with them. They were dark purple, plump and looked so ripe and juicy. I had ricotta at home and I decided to make ricotta pancakes with figs. Using Nigella’s Ricotta Hotcakes as a basis I changed her recipe by adding a few spices and some naartjie zest – which just gave it that ‘pick-me-up’ spicy-citrus flavouring.
I am also curious to dig a little deeper, and scratch below the surface when it comes to things that interest me, so I read up about figs and came across these interesting facts.
Fig Trivia – 10 Fig Facts
1. The Blossoms
Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches – the ‘fruit’ that we eat is the blossom and is pollinated by a special type of wasp. Many tiny flowers produce the crunchy little edible seeds that give figs their unique texture.
2. Calcium and Fiber
Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. Eating a half cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking a half a glass of milk. The food value increases with drying – one dried fig has almost as much calcium as an egg – listen up moms!
3. The Calorie Value
There is approximately 50 calories in one large fig.
4. The Garden of Eden
Many believe it was figs that were actually the fruit in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, not apples.
5. Fig Puree
Fig puree can be used to replace fat in baked goods.
6. The scientific name – Ficus carica
The common fig is a deciduous tree that grows to heights of up to 6 meters in the genus Ficus, from the family Moraceae, known as common fig tree. It is a temperate species native to the Middle East.
7. The Family
Figs may not look like it, but did you know that figs are a member of the mulberry family?
8. The Language
English – Fig
Spanish – Higo
Afrikaans – Vy
French – Figue
German – Feige
Italian – Fico
9. The History
Figs are originally from small Asia and are one of the first fruits cultivated ever. The Greeks made mention of them and around 60 BC and Plato promoted the fig as being an important nutrition for athletes. A story is known of the Greek government that had forbidden all exports of figs once in order to assure themselves of a good outcome at The Olympic Games. The ancients Greeks knew about 29 fig sorts. Today there are more than 600 different fig types.
English Idiom: “I don’t care a fig”
Meaning: Complete lack of concern about an event.
Origination: Probably originates from the abundance of this fruit.
Source: valleyfig.com, foodandtravel.com.au, caloriecount.about.com, wikipedia.org, crfg.org,
Ricotta Pancakes + Figs + Naartjie Honey
Serves: 5 (3 pancakes each)
Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 20 min
250g Ricotta cheese
100g Plain flour
1t Baking powder
10ml Naartjie Zest (you can replace with orange)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of cloves
Butter for frying
250ml Honey (I used orange blossom honey)
Juice of one orange or naartjie
5ml Naartie peel
5 Fresh figs – quartered
5t Crème Fraiche
1. For pancakes – Mix the ricotta, milk and eggs together and then add all the dry ingredients – mix everything together. Don’t overwork the mixture. Heat a bit of butter in a non-stick pan – then “spoon ” a dollops of batter into the pan and cook each pancake for about a minute each side till golden brown.
2. For citrus honey – simmer all ingredients for 5 minutes and allow to cool down a bit.
3. To serve – Drizzle with syrup + add the figs + the Crème Fraiche.