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  • The Fruit of the Gods

    by Anthony Parente

    Fig Tree From Jerry Tommarello's Garden
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    Is there anything more tasty and satisfying than sinking your teeth into a delicious fig picked from your very own garden? I am sure if you try hard enough you could come up with something more satisfying but would it be as tasty? This is just one of the many wonderful memories I had growing up. I would always look forward to September because that meant the fig trees were ready for the picking. We would walk to the garden and grab one from the tree. You would take the little stem off and break it open to make sure there wasn't anything already feasting on the delicious nectar before you plop it in your mouth. That sure was a slice of heaven.

    Like anything in life you couldn't enjoy the fruit without the labor part. When the fig tree was done producing for the year it came time to protect it from the cold winters. There are various ways to do this, but the most effective way for my family was burying the tree in the dirt. To do this you would dig a trench in the ground next to the tree. While your digging the trench you want to make sure you remove the dirt from underneath that side of the tree. Once everything was dug you would wrap the tree in a burlap sack to help protect it from the cold and the dirt. After that process was complete we would bend the tree down into the trench and cover it with the dirt we removed. When I first saw this I thought for sure the tree would never survive, but every year we would uncover it and sure enough figs would start to grow.

    I was used to eating the bite sized fig that had a dark purple skin. I thought this was the only kind until I went to Italy. The first night we were there my relatives brought out these figs that were the size of baseballs. Instead of a dark purple skin they had more of a light green almost white skin. It was like taking a bite out of an apple. It was pure ecstasy and one of the many highlights of the trip.

    I always used to think that my family were the only ones who knew what a fig was. When my Mom would pack some in my lunch my friends would always look at me with that strange look in their eye. I would ask them what they were staring at and they would ask me "what is that?" I would tell them it was a fig. For my friends the one and only thing they associated figs with was Newton. Granted fig newtons are a nice treat, but they don't stand up to eating a fresh hand picked fig. I should have known what their reaction would be. There seemed to be a lot of things I ate that they thought were strange. Once they tried it there never were many complaints. Most of the time they wanted more.

    Figs are just one of the many things that differentiated myself from the majority of my friends. Does this bring back any great memories of growing up? If it does I sure would like to hear them. You can do so by posting your memories on our forum. Thank you and I look forward to reading your memories of growing up Italian.

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