Iconic Ibiza foods: figs
Ibiza is fortunate to grow a range of fruits and vegetables. Among these is the fig, a sweet staple that grows on gnarled, silver-barked trees that dot the campo. Many farmers cultivate fig trees but those of you who love walking the island know you can encounter free-range figs too, the perfect sweet mouthful to energise you for the rest of your hike. Here are ten fun facts about figs, as well as a delicious recipe for summer.
Figs are one of the oldest foods
Wild fig trees first grew in Africa, West and South Asia and around the Mediterranean around 80 million years ago. Humans have been eating figs throughout history. They may be the first kind of food that people farmed, even before wheat and barley.
Figs feed the rainforest
Most fig species are tropical and 70 percent of the animal life in the rainforest depends on them. They are a keystone species: birds, bats, monkeys, gibbons, and insects all rely on figs for food.
Figs are fertilised by wasps
There are nearly 1000 recorded species of fig. Each and every one of them has evolved with its own species of pollinating fig wasp. Fig trees can’t fruit unless the correct wasp is present to fertilise the seeds.
The Isle of Wight once was covered in tropical forest and is where the world’s oldest known fig wasp fossil was found. Dated to 34 million years ago, it is practically identical to its modern descendants.
Fig trees are flexible
The trees can fruit several times a year. They have evolved a system whereby each distinct species of fig fruits at a particular time, which protects them from accidental cross-breeding.
100g of dried figs contains 162 milligrams of calcium. That’s the same amount of calcium as 120ml of milk.
Figs were a popular food for fattening geese. The French word for “liver” is foie, as in foie gras. Liver is higado in Spanish, fegato in Italian and figado in Portuguese, all of which words derive from ficus, Latin for a fig.
You’ve never seen a fig tree flower because the fruit itself contains many small flowers arranged on the inner surface. Thus the actual flowers of the fig are hidden unless you cut it open!
Figs love the sun so much that they’ll take it all! The trees grow and spread enormous canopies so figs can soak up the sun they need to ripen, while shading anything that grows beneath.
Figs of wisdom
According to legend Buddha gained enlightenment after meditating under a fig tree. Figs are common in the stories and myths of many religions, including Hinduism and Christianity.
Fresh figs with Gorgonzola and honey
4 large ripe figs
60g Gorgonzola cheese
2 tbsp runny honey
Zest from 1/2 an Ibiza lemon
Preheat the oven to 170C
Stand the figs in a baking dish
Cut a deep X in each fig and spread open
Stuff each fig with 15g Gorgonzola
Bake for 4-7 minutes until the fig is soft and the cheese melted
Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with lemon zest before serving