Some figs for a friend

Joined Jul 31, 2000
My same friend whom asked me about King salmon, also asked about Black mission figs and thier availability.

I did some reading on the fig and wanted to share some notes.

The Fig, A native of western Asia is a fruit with high sugar content, always popular in the near east and along much of the Meditereanian. In Greece it was foung in the diet of both the rich and poor, particuarly in the winter in dried form.

"Nothing sweeter than figs" Aristophanes declared, and their reputation spread far beyond the lands in which they grew until, in the 3rd century bc, Bindusara, king of the Maurya dominions India, wrote to Greece asking for some grape syrup, some figs and a philosopher. Grape syrup and figs, he was told with cool courtesy, would be sent with pleasure, but it was "against the law in Greece to trade in philosophers"

In Egypt basketfuls of figs were numbered amoung the tomb furnishings of the dynastic times. They were not always there for the gastronomic enjoyment of the Ka, however. As people, the Egyptians were much preoccupied by their digestions, believing that most illnesses had their source in the alimentary canal, so they would bombard themselves with every remedy they could. The fig which has a mild laxitive properties, must have quilified as thet rare substance, a food that not only tasted good, but was good for you. Undoubtebly mare favored then senna or castor oil that, then as now, were the main alternitive.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
Ah, figs! Thank you for the information, CC.

I remember seeing them aplenty on the trees in Greece the summer I visited there. Sadly, we left before they were ripe. I did date a fellow (no pun intended) who had a fig tree in his back yard. Seeing as it was Wisconsin, he would cover it with soil somehow to spare it from the winter cold. I did get to eat a few of the figs before we broke up....

Can't get enough fresh figs!


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
We were out dining on Tapas last night, and had one of my favorite fig dishes. Fresh figs wrappd in bacon and quickly broiled to render and crisp the bacon. What a great pairing.
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Ahhh Figs!

One of the favourite fruits of the Greeks!!

Archaeologists have difficulties in definining the seeds of figs in excavations because of their tiny size but we have reasons to believe that people were consuming the wild variety ( coming form the "male" trees) as early as the year 8000 BC!!!

Somewhere around the 3000 it seems that they started cultivating the figs somewhere in Arabia or Middle East.
Phinicians and Greeks who were travelling around the world with their ships, spread the cultivation of figs.

The fig tree has its symbolization in various cultures and civilizations.

According to the Greek Mythology, During the battle of the Titans with the Gods, one Titan, named Sykeus ( sykon is fig in Greek) made one tree grow so as to protect his mother Gaea from the thurderbolts of Zeus.
Due to their shape, figs and fig trees, were considered phallic symbols and all the neccessary "equipment" for celebrating the festivities to honor Dionysus were made of wood that was coming from a fig tree!!

The most impressive of all stories though that is related with figs is the etymology of the word Sycophant.

Sykon in Greek is the fig.

Phaino , means to reveal, to bring something to light!

In Ancient Athens, apart from the Olive trees that none could even touch them and cutting them meant a death penalty. Fig trees were considered precious as well.

If we belive Thucidetes, Athens was a very poor area with no agriculture and this is the reason that Athens didn't experienced any seizes by conquerors ( we are talking about 2000 BC)
Why bother conquer Athens , since there was nothing there to eat?

So the few fig trees were valuable and exporting figs was prohibited.

Well if you were caught trading figs out of the city you were in trouble, so if someone wanted to drag you to court with no reason, all he had to do was to bribe someone to testify that he saw you exporting reveal that you were selling the figs , Syko+ fanein = sykofantis in Greek , sykophant!!!

I have found a site that it suggest that the word sykophant derives from the word syko + phantes that they were those that they were enjoying figs.

Athenaeus boasts of her knowledge in dead languages so this fanein comes from the word reveal and not enjoy which sound similar! Take my word for it :)

Ancient greeks mostly dried figs so as to store them for the winter period.

I have posted an ancient greek recipe once responding to a question posed by Anneke. I will trace my answer and I will attach the link
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