Saturday, May 28, 2016

Figues - Figs. Figs on French Menus. The Best Figs in France are the Figues de Sollies,

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Figues de Sollies
Figue/s – Figs; the fruit. Figs reached France through those first seafaring wholesalers, the Phoenicians and now grow all around the Mediterranean. Figs are another of the fruits that first grew in the Middle East or Asia and spread with traders who followed or established trade routes.   The first findings of domesticated plantings of the fig come from a 10,000-year-old Neolithic village discovered in The Jordan Valley, north of Jericho in the Middle East.  That timing even pre-dates the domestication of wheat.
      The Greeks and Romans loved figs and when the Romans occupied France in 121 BCE there were not enough fig trees for their needs, so they brought more. The Greeks had previously brought new vines, and then the Romans brought figs, peaches, cherries, apricot trees and more. The Romans were the first to use figs to fatten pigs and geese and create the fatty animal livers they loved, and so it was the Romans who taught the French how to prepare foie gras. Then again, there are many who still ask “what did the Romans ever do for us”?  Well. the Romans also taught the French to set up and run snail farms and even created a system for imitation rain to make the snails grow faster
Figs on French Menus:

Carpaccio de Veau au Fromage de Chèvre et aux Figues-  A veal Carpaccio served with goats' cheese with figs.
Le Trio de Fromages Corses et sa Confiture de Figues – A trip of three kinds of Corsican cheese served with a fig jam.
Figs du Sollies

Magret de Canard aux Figues Duck breast prepared with figs

Pageot aux Figues Fraîches à la Sarriette - Sea bream prepared with fresh figs flavored with summer savory.

Pavé d'Espadon aux Figues Fraiche accompagné d'une Purée – A thick cut of swordfish prepared with fresh figs and served with potato puree.

Wild figs, also tasty.
Sorbet Citron Avec Alcool De Figues – A lemon sorbet with fig alcohol.
Suprême de Pintade aux Figues et Pruneaux Marinés au Porto. Breast of Guinea Fowl with figs and prunes marinated in port.
Tarte aux Figues Tiède et Boule De Glace Vanille – A warm fig tart served with a ball of vanilla ice-cream.
The very best of France’s figs:

The very best figs in France come from in and around the village of Solliès – Le - Pont in the department of Var in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. The Figues de Sollies AOP are also called the Figues Violettes de Sollies. These particular violet colored fresh figs are practically hand reared and hold an AOP  for their unique quality. They are sold fresh from the 1st of September through the 30th of October. The small town itself should also be awarded an AOP for its beauty.
A superb fig tart.

     The French Government Tourist Information Office that includes 5 communities around Sollies and has a French language website. Google and Bing translate apps present the sites in English.

      When you visit the village of Solliès-Le-Pont, you may well assume that the village may have been part of the Garden of Eden. Water channels run everywhere, taking water throughout the village to all the trees and gardens, which are filled with many different fruits. Close by are the villages of Sollies-Toucas and Sollies-Ville.  Sollies means the sun in the Provencal dialect. The village of Solliès-Pont is just 45 km (28 miles) from St Tropez.

The Feast of Figs

Summer fruits
     The last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in August are the dates for the Fête de la Figue de Solliès-le-Pont, the Feast of the Figs in Sollies. The fete’s organizers have a French language website.  Using the Google or Bing translate apps all will become clear:
      The fete begins on the Friday night when meals with figs as their centerpiece are prepared in the village square.  Saturday and Sunday include hikes, visits to fig orchards and market stalls selling a wide variety of artisanal products; these and many more events are followed by fig parades with decorated carts, Provencal dances and more.  Of no less importance is the election of a baby as the year’s “baby fig” and fig cooking competitions.

Fig and spice jam

      Around the village of Sollies are other communities whose residents make a great deal of their income from growing these same unique figs. So do not be surprised if there are many places in the area you pass offering figs.

       If you are looking for the world production of figs the very best are the Sollies who produce less than 20,000 tons a year. However, around the world over 1,000,000  tons of figs are produced annually.  The world’s largest producer, Turkey, alone accounts for over one-quarter of the world’s needs.

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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2016
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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