National Fig Week

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What fruit, long enjoyed in other cultures, has finally attained gourmet status with many American chefs? The fig of course! Demand is clearly on the rise, with California fig production averaging 28 million pounds over the last five years. While this age-old fruit is officially celebrated the first week of each November, why not join fig lovers everywhere in paying it tribute all year round?

This unique “fruit of the gods” is praise worthy for many reasons. Figs are one of the oldest fruits recognized by humans. In fact, Sumerian stone tablets dating back to 2500 B.C. record the usage of figs. The Greeks believed the fig was a gift of Demeter, and made sacred to Dionysus.

The fig tree has been called the Tree of Life and Knowledge from Central Africa to the Far East. The Bo tree, under which Buddha meditated, was a variety of the fig tree. Ficus carica, known to us as the common fig, originated in northern Asia Minor. Spaniards brought the fig to America in 1520.

It’s no wonder the fig has been enjoyed for centuries. Its sweet, delicious flesh─long used as a sweetener before the advent of refined sugars─enhances both desserts and savory dishes. And November is an ideal month to celebrate this fruit, as innovative, fig-based dishes can add both flavor and flair to your Thanksgiving feast.

Why not pamper your guests with Cornish Hens Stuffed with Brandied Figs, Figs Stuffed with Tapenade, Cranberry Fig Chutney, Figs with Thyme, Honey and Gorgonzola Toasts, Pork Loin Chops with Fig Sauce, or Fig Raisin Spice Cake? Explore these recipes and many more here.

Other ideas include Fig and Walnut Parcels, Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Balsamic-Fig-Basil Sauce, and Vanilla Port Poached Figs with Honey Cream. Find these recipes and more at: http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/fruits-and-vegetables/fruits/figs/main.aspx

Figs also offer some attractive health benefits. They’re a good source of calcium, iron, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants, and have anti-diabetic properties. And for all the flavor they deliver, figs weigh in at a mere 120 calories per half cup.

From Black Missions to Calimyrnas to Kadotas─fresh or dried─this amazing ancient fruit clearly deserves some fanfare this month. Enjoy!

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