Fig trees have enjoyed a prominent role in history, not only for their famous leaves that helped provide modesty for Adam and Eve as well as for countless other classical statues and figures in paintings, but also for holding the distinction of being one of the first plants cultivated by humans—predating wheat and rye by about a thousand years.
Originating from the Middle East, figs first made the transatlantic jump to the New World in the mid-1500s—landing first in Mexico. They made their way up to California in the 1700s, and continued to spread to states with suitable climates. There are over 700 varieties of figs worldwide, and at least six or seven types that grow in Texas—from the coast up to the Panhandle. Texas even boasts its own locally developed varieties: Texas Everbearing, Alma and Blue Giant.
Nutritionally, the fruit packs a surprising amount of calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium and fiber. Whichever variety grows in your backyard or turns up at your farmers market, rest assured it will work beautifully in these savory and sweet recipes that also showcase other Texas culinary stars, such as gulf shrimp, oyster mushrooms, honey, goat cheese and pecans. — by Elif Selvili