Welcome to my world - a blend of passion, taste, and old-world traditions.

Benvenuti nel mio mondo - un mischio di passione, gusto e vecchie tradizioni.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

ITALIANS and Their Fig Trees

What was the obsession of Italian immigrants growing trees in this part of the country where the climate is inhospitable to figs?  I believe it was a symbol of cultural identity.


My parents’ fig tree was brought here illegally by my father in 1957 despite the risk of being confiscated and fined. I guess he was trying hard to smuggle a little dream of Abruzzese sweetness into a cold Northeastern climate.

August - Our first harvest
He nurtured it like a baby. In late fall, he would tie the branches of the fig tree and wrap it snugly with a huge blanket of leaves. Then, cover it with old rugs and plastic to further shield it from the winter’s harshness. 

The fig tree outlived my father and now we carry on the legacy of nurturing the tree.  The reward for this care is worth the minimal effort. In late August, after eating a fig right off the tree - honey like and fragile – it is easy to understand why someone would try so hard to grow a Mediterranean tree under such unfriendly conditions.

A delicious obsession

Today, our children have their own little fig tree.  For us, it signifies family unity, strength and perseverance.

Grilled Figs


12 ripe, fresh figs cut in half
1/2 Pound Thinly Sliced Prosciutto. Imported Parma or San Daniele from Italy are the best.
2 handfuls of mixed baby or mescaline greens
Some good olive oil
Some Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Olive Oil


Trim the stems of the figs, wash and dry well and cut them in half from tip to bottom. Brush the cut end with a little olive oil and place them face down on a hot grill. Don't cook them too long because you just want to score the a little; when done set aside. Arrange the baby greens on individual plates. Salt and pepper the figs to taste, wrap each fig in half a slice of prosciutto and place on the greens. In a small saucepan, heat some balsamic vinegar and cook until it is reduced by half. Whisk in some olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat cool to room temperature. When ready to serve, drizzle this mixture over the figs and greens and serve.

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