Thursday’s Special: Go Fig(ure)



Common fig also known as just fig or scientifically Ficus Carica is a species of flowering plant belonging to the mulberry family of fruits along with mulberries, breadfruit, and osage orange.

Now, what I wonder about is what makes the common fig so common?

Is it the fact that it is the oldest cultivated fruit on Earth; (scientists have recently discovered that figs had been cultivated for more than 5,000 years when nine carbonized figs were unearthed in the early Neolithic village of Gilgal in Israel); the fact that it is widely spread all over Western Asia, and the Mediterranean coast of both North Africa and Europe, and that it found its way to the Americas, or the fact that its leaf was used throughout art history as a medium of censorship which has its origins in Adam’s and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden?

Fig is a uniquely nutritious fruit with the highest amount of calcium of any fruit, and it’s an excellent source of dietary fibre, which makes it one of the best natural laxatives; it is an excellent antioxidant that may prevent some types of cancer and according to some recent studies can be used in diabetes prevention too. Its nutritional benefits are abundant, and here is another fact that you may have ignored: fig leaves are surprisingly healthy too; in some cuisines they are used for cooking, as wrappers for fish or meat.

Be as it may, the figurative use of the word fig in many languages suggests that this valuable, though common, fruit has been slighted.

You must have heard or even used the expressions ”not worth a fig“ or “I don’t give a fig“. In Italian “non vale un fico secco“ means ”not worth a dry fig“; in French: “faire la figue à quelqu’un” means to make fun of somebody. The Spanish say “me importa un higo” which is equivalent to the English “I don’t give a fig” etc. The depreciation of figs has crept into my language too, (maybe through Italian), despite the fact that dry figs are a well-known delicacy and are often enjoyed with a glass of grappa – grape brandy.

Can this derision of the fig be attributed to the biblical account of Jesus’ irritation with a fig tree from which he desperately tried to pluck a fruit in April!? Peeved for his fruitless attempt, he then cursed the tree which withered the following day. Shouldn’t he have known better?!

Here is another idea:

May contempt for the fig have its origins in the biblical story of the Garden of Eden, and the tree of knowledge bearing the forbidden fruit, the same fruit that is responsible for Adam’s and Eve’s expulsion from paradise? Scientists are still guessing the identity of the fruit since the traditional depiction of it as apple does not hold water; apples were unknown in Ancient Israel and Bible was never specific about what fruit it was. The fact that apples got associated with Eden only in 500 AD when Bible was first translated into Latin, tells us that it was simply an error of ambiguous translation brought on by Latin homonym malum(us) having two meanings “evil” and “apple”.

Though some scientists guess that the forbidden fruit was the pomegranate considering it was the most cultivated fruit in Ancient Israel, others claim that it was most probably the fig, quoting that a fig leaf was used to cover Adam’s and Eve’s nudity when they were chased out of Eden.

This is one riddle that will probably remain unsolved, but I wish I could figure it out.

**About this post: Thursday’s Special is a new ‘non-challenge’ challenge that appeals to bloggers eager to wake up their creativity and show their own ideas and interpretation of the world. I invite everybody interested to join in. There are no themes, titles and techniques set for your expression, there are no limits and restrictions (no red tape whatsoever). The only thing required is to post a photo post on Thursdays entitled “Thursday’s Special: (your theme/title)” (as explained in my Thursday’s Special introductory post), to provide a link to my Thursday’s Special post, and to leave a link to your post in the comments section of my post. If you like Thursday’s Special widget, feel free to grab it and post it on your blog.


Check out beautiful entries for Thursday’s Special: 

64 Comments on “Thursday’s Special: Go Fig(ure)

  1. An interesting post Paula. What I like most about it is the suggestion that our Thursday posts could be on anything. Now to put my thinking cap on (as one of my teacher’s used to say)!


    • I wonder what you will pull out from your thinking cap :D. Thank you, Colline for reading me 🙂 Yes, my opinion is that no limits should be placed on creativity.. have fun!!!


  2. I love fig. … more than 5,000 years! This is such a well-written, informative, and interesting post, Paula! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Mine is coming…


  3. Interesting tribute to a food that is often overlooked. While I have never actually eaten a fig, I love the newton cookies. Thanks for the enlightenment.


  4. Very interesting post Paula. I didn’t know that fig was such a nutritious fruit. It’s very tasty as well – especially in Israel. In Norway you just get imported fruits, mostly grown in green houses.


    • Thank you, Max 🙂 I know what you mean. Ever since my grandparents passed away (many years ago) I haven’t tasted a decent fig. – they used to cultivate it… Israel is the best place to savour the fig considering it is its birthplace 😉


  5. What a fascinating collection of fig facts, Paula! All I knew about figs till now is that they’re luscious. Thank you for your efforts in my much needed education process. The music is fabulous 🙂 and your photo too.
    No decent figs in Croatia? Oh dear! Seems like a good enough reason to visit Israel.


  6. Interesting post. And it brings up the point that lots of things of value are slighted in language. Dog are such fine creatures, but it’s more common than not to find at least in English idioms involving them as negative: dog eat dog, lead a dog’s life, work like a dog, hound someone, etc.


      • When I feel good again I will enter this challenge of you for sure sweetness. At this stage I am struggling with sinus migraines because of Spring that is on it’s way and then I can’t do much. If it’s not the one thing it’s another. Getting a bit tired of it to say the least. It makes me depressed so I am not very creative. 😉


        • I will be very happy to see you get better soon, Sophia. Spring is my least favourite weather-changing season too, even though I am much less sick than you, honey. I will be sending you all the positive vibes and thoughts. It will be an honour to have you onboard when you recover… Try to keep your spiritis up (easy to say). I am thinking of you *big hugs*


          • Thanks for understanding hon and for the loving thoughts and the same here. 😀 *big hugs*


  7. Great texture and tone in this Paula. Also, thanks for the history lesson, very informative. And here I just thought they tasted good 🙂


  8. Pingback: Thursday Special – Mackenzie | The World Is a Book...

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    • Thank you Max 🙂 The more, the merrier. The submitted entries are singled out at the end of my post 🙂


  11. You know I have NEVER had a fresh fig. I gotta find one now that I know the history of a fig!


  12. Some people peel figs? I never knew that! Nothing sweeter than a warm juicy fig picked straight from the tree – before the birds feast on them. Love the detail in your shot and in the text Paula and how sad that such an exotic little nugget has been so derided.


    • Yes, here many people do 🙂 Thank you for reading my post, Patti. I hoped you like the music here too 😉


  13. Love figs and love your write-up too. This Thursday Special does appeal to me and I’ll try to have something ready for next Thursday. I am following your post too! 🙂


  14. I love your fig based post, and you ask wonderful questions. I remember being amazed when I first learned that in English all fruits were called apples in the not so distant past. Apple just means fruit, so the original forbidden fruit could indeed be any of your suggestions 🙂


  15. What an interesting post, Paula! I think I need to go out and buy some figs now. 🙂 I will keep your challenge in mind. Nice music again. xx


    • My dear Sylvia, you should really have some figs especially with your slender figure 🙂 I hope you liked the piece by Yanni too .. it is very Middle East 😉


  16. Hi Paula. 🙂

    This was an interesting read. I’ve wanted to figure this one out too. You know, about the apple… or fig.
    It must contain no practical significance, right? Or perhaps it would be more clear?
    I’ve long suspected that even the most determined expositors are missing the point of many of these early chapters of the Bible anyway. But what do I know? 😉
    When it comes to the Bible, I’m a bit of a purist. Well… maybe not a purist, but a literalist.
    Thus I feel some sense of gratification knowing that there was no mention of the actual apple.



    • I am not an expert on Bible, and I think it does not contain any practical significance, but apple grew into a really infamous fruit later on – remember the Snow White? 😀 Kidding aside, Bible is a translation of texts collected over centuries and the church has banned many of the texts that were originally in it….


  17. A friend sent a huge box of Mediterranean dried figs to my mother ever Christmas. They were delicious. I planted a fig tree for her when she came to live with us. She enjoyed the fruit for twenty years. As did the rest of the family. I should plant another tree at the new house. I enjoyed your post very much. Thank you.


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