Figs and Their Waspy Secret

A ripe fig...I’ve recently read that it wasn’t an apple that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but a fig. And I fully agree. Few things are as tempting, and in my opinion, it’s one of the most seductive fruits in the world. Once ripened on the tree, the juicy bulbs beckon you to bite into their lush flesh and enjoy the sweet succulence that awaits inside.

Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but figs are really flowers and not fruits. They’re actually magnificent inverted flowers that bloom internally. Read on; it gets much better. These flowers have a very special relationship with their pollinators, fig wasps. Fig trees and these tiny little creatures, no more than one or two millimeters long, are co-dependent. The teeny female wasps’ sole task is to crawl into an unripe fig, pollinate with pollen carried from other figs, lay eggs, and then die. Good or bad, interesting or gross, depending on how you look at this situation, the fact remains that figs depend on fig wasps to fertilize them, and the wasps depend on figs for a place to lay eggs and reproduce. Once the queen wasp’s job is done, her dead body is then absorbed by the fig.

For a much more detailed and precise explanation, read more here: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/fig_wasp.shtml

Anyway, I’m attaching a short video illustrating one of my most favorite quick recipes, Grilled Figs with Gorgonzola and Honey. Considering that I’ll be remaining in my one-armed prison for another week or so, you’ll see that I’ve used a torch to caramelize the figs in the video when I’d normally grill them. To grill the figs, slice in half lengthwise, brush lightly with a neutral oil, and grill on medium heat, cut side down until grill marks appear. That should take about five minutes or so, but watch them closely, so they don’t burn.

Giving credit where credit is due: Photography/Videography by @remages 

–Chef Diana

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