Wednesday, September 10, 2008

figs on a plate

figs on a plate
reflections on the 11th of September

The first time I tasted a fig (not counting Fig Newtons) was 20-some years ago when we lived in İstanbul, where there was a fig tree in our yard. I was 30. I remember feeling the luxury of it on my tongue. A fresh fig! Not coated in thick, sticky sweet gel with a few gritty seeds for texture (Fig Newton cookie), but the cool flesh of a fruit that is delicately sweet. In Midwestern U.S. homes like mine when I was growing up in the '60s, fresh figs would have been unheard of. We don't have a fig tree on the farm here in Michigan, obviously. Too bad. Don bought these imported figs at our local grocer's. Rarely do we look past the plastic bags of apples at the more exotic fruits. Wonderful things happen when you open up to new tastes and new ways of looking. Don't be afraid of what you don't know, open up. The real deal might be different than you expect, and maybe you'll find it as delectable as figs on a plate.
* * * *
Added at 9:15pm: I did not originally write this part, because I didn't feel like overtly talking about 9/11. But, since it isn't apparent what I'm getting at above, here goes. On this anniversary of 9/11 I am not afraid of more terrorist attacks. I don't even think about it much, until I go through security at an airport. And then I am angry at a few who gave us cause for fear. What happened in 2001 was beyond imagining, so horrible it was. But I refuse to let it close my heart in fear or suspicion of Muslims in general. And now, according to some, there are possibly over a million dead in Iraq since the U.S. attack in 2003. Who should be afraid of whom? This is my point here, that it's too easy to establish a perspective based on insufficient information. We don't understand the vast complexities of another individual, let alone another culture, with thousands of years of history, conflict, wars, arts & culture. I abhor the arrogance of interference we force on the world. I am trying to be open.


VioletSky said...

Mmm - figs wrapped in prosciutto. Delicious.

Sharon said...

Really gorgeous photo Ruth! I've never tried a fig....or a Fig Newton for that matter.

Rauf said...

Ruth, i can understand your feelings when you tasted fig for the first time. faith took you to Istanbul. fig is a biblical fruit.
Perhaps tasting fig was a religious experience to you. i also understand that Eve was very fashion conscious. fig leaves look beautiful but not much of a dress, say more like a bikini. Perhaps Adam wanted Eve to cover herself with lotus leaves which are bigger in size, more practical as lotus leaf is a good and effective rain coat as well. Eve perhaps wanted to be more glamourous, so Eve would have promptly rejected.

Then Adam brings a banana leaf. Eve is furious. Have you gone completely out of your mind ?
Do you want me to wear an ugly thing like that ? Poor Adam was thinking of completely covering his wife. Eve could afford to be a little daring as she had no mother in law to confront with. How lucky !
So Adam brings fig leaves, oh thats sweet ! thats my Adam, i love that. i can go out shopping wearing those. thank you Adam dear.

Do you have any idea what are the other biblical fruits Ruth ? pomegranate is one. Perhaps you'll find only the fruits available in that region.

Anet said...

The only cookies that my mom bought when us kids were little was fig newtons. I never knew there was other cookies in the stores. She did bake different cookies. I have never tried a fresh fig...I bet they are delishous!

Rauf said...

Ruth, got this in the mail today.
i don't know what to make of this.


Look at this: It's very strange....

The date of the attack:
9/11 - 9 + 1 + 1 = 11
September 11th is the 254th day of the year:
2 + 5 + 4 = 11
After September 11th there are 111 days left to the end of the year.

119 is the area code to Iraq/Iran. 1 + 1 + 9 = 11

Twin Towers - standing side by side, looks like the number 11
The first plane to hit the towers was Flight 11

But ....There's More.......

State of New York - The 11 State added to the Union New York City - 11
Afghanistan - 11 Letters
The Pentagon - 11 Letters
Ramzi Yousef - 11 Letters (convicted of orchestrating the attack on the
WTC in 1993)
Flight 11 - 92 on board - 9 + 2 = 11
Flight 77 - 65 on board - 6 + 5 = 11

gaz said...

i have 10 fingers and one nose -
does that mean i'm linked? ;-]

Ruth said...

Yum, Sanna, yum. I've had that with pineapple too.

Ruth said...

Sharon, see! It's because you grew up in Michigan too! :) You must try one if you see one, but as I wrote, there is no comparison eating one that crossed the Atlantic or the U.S. from California and eating one fresh picked.

Ruth said...

Ok, rauf, I googled 'biblical fruit' - and of course one of the hits was 'fruits of the spirit.' Cool!

Anyway, here is a list of biblical food plants from one site:

castor bean

Oh that is quite a leaf wardrobe for Eve! And another rauf husband and wife dialog - which always crack me up. You are a good observer of married couples. You should write a book of comic short stories about them. Actually, I think maybe you have plenty to fill a book in your blog posts, the made-up dialogs between animals. So funny!

Ruth said...

Anet, you poor thing! Haha! Actually they taste all right, if you accept the semi-stale state of hyper-smooth cookie part! Oh, but she baked cookies, then it's all right, you lucky girl.

Ruth said...

rauf, I have seen that, that's a lot of coincidences!

Ruth said...

Gaz, I can't believe you wrote that!! Now that in itself is a coincidence! I'm writing a post for next week about how many houses we've lived in since the kids were born, and I wrote we lived in '11, yes, that's 10 + 1' ! Weird! :D

Ruth said...

I just looked at the NYTimes online, and then at the paper copy front page, and it's interesting to me that there is nothing, nada, about 9/11 on this anniversary! Maybe no one else wants to talk about it either.

Ruth said...

Actually now the update on NYT online has something about the towers.

Bob Johnson said...

Another great food shot Ruth and Amen to your 9/11 addition.

Loring Wirbel said...

Hmm, there's a LOT of stuff on the 9/11 ceremonies, I had the opposite feeling, like there was more on seven-year than on five-year anniversary.

Anyway, isn't it interesting how figs, pomegranates, mangos, papayas are so readily available in any grocery store these days, and not so much 20 or 30 years ago, even though the economy was supposedly almost as globalized then? Maybe it's just the mainstreaming of yuppie tastes. Chilean grapes grown by Pinochet were everywhere in 1980, but who wanted to eat a pomegranate?

Ruth said...

Thanks, Bob!

Ruth said...

Yeah, Loring, for about an hour this morning, there was nuttin on the front of the NYT, but then, like you say, it proliferated.

I usually try to stick with produce that is shipped as short a distance as possible. But once in a while we break down and get something exotic. And the thing about pomegranates is the supposed health benefit, right?

Loring Wirbel said...

Speaking of health benefits, it's a funny thing about Acai berries. At the same time I started getting spam email about Acai-enabled lotions and why Oprah loves acai, all the health drinks Carol buys started touting "acai-fortified." OK, what's behind the acai conspiracy?

Gwen Buchanan said...

Ruth, This Photograph is amazing!!! I love the angle and lighting and the depth of the shadows!!

I have never had a real fig either.. and maybe a fig newton so long ago, I forget what it tastes like..( dates? does it taste like dates) But maybe now there is no sense... it will never he the same as the real fresh picked thing.

Don said...

We didn't do a moment of silence at school this AM. My students knew about 9/11, but not much.

Loring, I think the acai conspiracy is tied into the cranberry juice mixed with everything conspiracy.

Ruth said...

Loring, I haven't tried anything with the Acai berry.

I trust that you will be able to dig up any and all illicit motivations behind the Acai phenom.

Ruth said...

Oh thank you, Gwen! I took the photo in the morning, which is a great time to be on the side porch as the sun shines directly onto it. This Wedgwood plate is of the library at Smith College, where my mom went to school, so it has special significance to me.

Yes, I would say the taste of figs is similar to dates. Ohh, that reminds me of a date bar I used to bake in Istanbul and haven't made since we got back to the U.S. . . . Gotta get that recipe out.

Ruth said...

Don, are you saying you forgot the moment of silence? Or did you just decide not to?

Too bad politicians use 9/11 for photo ops. I think McCain and Obama should have just stayed away from Ground Zero yesterday.

shicat said...

Ruth, Your figs reminded me of a walk that I took with my friend this summer to her 90 year old aunt and uncles house. My friend's uncle is Italian and a fantastic gardener. Now you wouldn't think that the Michigan climate would support a fig tree, and I had never seen one up to that point. But there it was in all of it's glory, infact there were several trees. The Plant itself is beautiful and I plan on returning to photograph it.Evidently the secret to growing the fig tree is to bury it in the winter. My friend tried this but wasn't as fortunate as her uncle. Her uncle is another story all together. He is a gleeful Italian who enjoys sipping homemade wine while listening to Italian music in his basement. I am going to photograph him as well..... oh, and one more thing last night that same friend served figs to our bookclub.. yum.

Ruth said...

Shicat, I am completely surprised about a fig tree in Michigan! (Sounds like a book title, no? Maybe a story about a certain Italian gentleman . . .) Were the figs served at bookclub from her uncle's tree?

I wonder what he did differently than she did. And I wonder what that means: bury it winter.

Will you be posting photos of the Italian man on your blog, I hope?

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

Ruth, I completely respect your views and appreciate your candor. I agree with your second-to-last sentence. Since when did our founding forefathers want us to act as the world's referree? We need to butt out and take care of our own.

I abhor the treatment of women as property in Arab countries. In all fairness, how many women have been saved from honor killings now that the world is more aware of them?

I am ashamed to admit I have never had a fresh fig...the granddaughter of a fruit farmer and all!

Ruth said...

Hi Amy, I'd love to know more about what you think, thank you for engaging with the second part of my post as much as you did. Maybe it's too difficult or too personal for people to get into it more, judging from the lack thereof here. I am happy for people to disagree with me, or take issue with anything I write. :) I don't like to be so polite that we don't have an exchange of perspectives. That is the whole point here. But maybe it's beating a dead horse after these years. I don't know.

Thanks to freedoms in the West, women's stories have been published that reveal atrocities toward women, sometimes at great risk to themselves even so. I wish and hope that we can shine the light on that darkness. But we have so much darkness of our own that needs to be brought to light, I wonder if we can change ourselves.

I hope you will have a chance to try a fig soon!

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

You are such a refreshing delight! To highlight your statement about the lack of discussion of the events that took place 7 years ago, the Toledo Blade (a newspaper known for its leftist political bias) put the anniversary of 9-11 on (brace yourself) page THREE! And do you know what was directly beneath it? An article about potential jurors expressing their doubts about their ability to remain unaffected by OJ Simson's murder trial. I read it at work and it was difficult to keep my eyes from welling up with the frustration.

Yes, this in the land of the free and the home of the brave. What have we come to?

Honestly Ruth, I feel that I have lost my faith in our country. I feel that it is doomed to eventually fail just like Egypt and Rome did. The powers that be seem bent on destroying this country and we the people seem content to sit by and watch. Yes we moan and groan about it, but what do we REALLY DO?

I believe that the two party system is a failure. When was the last time an Independent Party candidate even got a fair shot on the ballot? But I digress...

Your blog is always intellectually stimulating, and even if we don't see the issues the same, I will always be a regular reader. How could I not? The important thing is we actually CARE about these issues! I thought up something at work this week and it really makes you stop and think: Apathy leads to tyranny.

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything!

Ruth said...

Ah, thank you for coming back, Amy!

I utterly agree, it is possible we must fall hard, and my perspective is that if McCain is elected, maybe that's where we are headed faster. The extremisms of George W have pushed people to the moaning and groaning. The apathy is the scary part.

I HATE the two party system. My Indian brother rauf suggested not voting in this election, and I seriously considered it, very seriously, even starting a campaign about it, because this is not a democracy, it's a democratic republic. My slogan would be: NO DEMOCRACY NO VOTE. BUT I decided I have to vote in a two party system, because even though I wish a 3rd party candidate would have a chance, I know they don't, and I don't care to 'throw my vote away' or similarly to let a Rep vote replace my no vote.

I ask myself if I'm apathetic. No, it's not that I don't care, I care. But as you say, WHAT CAN I DO? We have to keep screaming, that's one. But I think the other point I've gotten to is that people are just going to have to step up and do what they can and not wait for government to fix things. Like T. Boone Pickett's campaign for wind power, and people just doing it, not waiting for government regulation. Maybe a groundswell of change will happen without the government. I hope so.

Yes, apathy leads to tyranny, that is a great motto to keep us going.

Our country is a strange, one-of-a-kind mix of wonder and horror. I don't know just when the diverence started, when government started to go so far off course. And now it's people who buy it hook line and sinker that scare me most.

Anywho, thank you so much for writing your thoughts!

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

Actually, we are not a democracy in its truest sense. True democracies are found in France, England and Canada. We are a representative republic where the people elect representatives to act on their behalf. (I don't know 'bout you but my representatives don't represent my interests and haven't for eons.) My husband taught me a few things when we met and he told me to look up "democracy" and learn about it. It turns out that a democracy operates under mob rule. But listen to me lecturing the professor!

Honestly, I feel that with either candidate we are going to dig ourselves into even deeper doo-doo. Until we learn from our past mistakes as a country, we will never improve things!

Those who buy into it are indeed scary people! The powers the be love it that so few Americans are capable of critical thought. But I'm a rebel so it's natural for me to buck the system!

Love the exchange of ideas here Ruth! Thanks!

Ruth said...

Ah, but you weren't lecturing me - and I'm not a professor. :) I also said we are not a democracy, but a democratic republic, which is different as you say, no mob rule. Oh, and my husband told me about that too! It's a fallacy many believe, that we have a voice! Funny thing, eh? What made us think we had a voice??

And yep, it'll get worse before it gets better, I'm afraid.

Thanks so much for continuing the conversation, Amy.