Figs have been around since ancient times, originating in western Asia and the Middle East and mentioned symbolically in the Bible. In addition, they are known to hold a position in many world religions representing peace, fertility and prosperity.
*(wikipdedia and http://www.thespruce.com)*
I for one absolutely LOVE figs so when I stumbled across an advert for a fig festival, I was in without hesitation. I rounded some troops and we left the city behind, headed for the Western Cape winelands and farm areas. It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday and only 30 – 40 minutes later open fields, rows of trees and cows and sheep were our new backdrop to the day.
We arrived at the Uitkijk Farm, where the Eksteen Family Farm hosted the day of ‘figgy fever’. Our ticket included a box of figs and a wine glass, for that perfect pairing later on. We wondered around, browsing the food stalls and bar offerings before attempting to commit to anything – we were spoiled for choice!
Tents and a stage were set up behind the old, rustic farm building where local artists had us toe-tapping and singing along to the golden oldies. In typical farmyard fashion, we sat at wooden tables and benches or bales of hay, while sipping on fig ale and cider or pink gin drinks created by the exceptionally imaginative bar.
When we were ready, we hopped onto the back of the tractor, which drove us into the nearby orchards to begin our picking adventures. But first…a lesson from the incredibly generous-in-sharing farmer Johan. Amongst other things, we learned: the fig is the flower of its tree and they flourish in hot dry conditions; the family farm has been harvesting figs since 2009 across 7 hectares, producing about 70 tonnes of fruit from January to March each year, 90% of which is exported to the likes of the UK and China; the rest can be found in our local, high quality super markets or enjoyed from the farm in the dried form or juiced to be sipped on ice.
It was an incredible experience to learn how to pick the fruit correctly, to look for whole fruits of a deep purple colour and being physically in touch with nature in this way. All this and then enjoying the fruits (literally) of our labour with every juicy bite, a day well spent I’d say.
Next step will be deciding all the different ways to use my new consignment of figs…the fun begins!