When I was a little girl in Missouri, it was popular to have fruit trees. We, however, did not have any. My dad was content with having an enormous vegetable garden.
Our neighborhood had several folks with apple, pear or plum trees. There was a general rule that if a branch hung over a fence, the fruit was free for the taking.
I was happy to take it.
If I wandered outside my general neighborhood parameters and discovered a new tree hanging over someone's fence, I felt like I'd discovered gold. Maybe I'd get to try a new kind of apple or pear.
It didn't take much to make me happy.
I had long forgotten about those experiences until we moved to this property in 2000. We were one of the first to build in our area, and that meant there were acres and acres to be explored.
On on particular outing, I noticed a tree that was covered in birds. Upon closer inspection, I discovered they were gorging on figs. Small, purple-brown Turkish figs. Figs that cost upwards of $10 a pound at the grocery store. I'd discovered gold, all over again. What was even better, is the tree didn't belong to anyone.
Every year after that, I'd race the animals to get the figs before they did. The birds got the ones in the top of the tree, the deer would get the ones nearest the bottom, and I'd get the ones in the middle.
The last two years have been dismal for fig production. Figs are primarily water and sugar. No rain means no figs. This spring, it began to rain again. Long, soaking rains.
The fig tree has rewarded my patience with enormous fruit this year. They are bigger than any fig I have ever seen--as big as a jumbo egg. Their sweetness is not rivaled by sugar nor honey.
This tart is just the beginning. Figs will find themselves in jelly jars and in salads. I will scour recipes online for fig recipes. Above all, my favorite way to eat them is raw. Skin and all.
Good thing they aren't really gold, or I'd have a broken tooth or two.