November 25, 2009

A great big melting pot.

I dream about this. Ripe, sweet figs.
Last spring I planted my third Mission fig tree and again during the summer I lost the tree. I am determined to try again. Though I must admit, I don't see a lot of fig trees around here, so I might be trying the impossible.

I must have tasted my first fig, picked from a tree in our garden, when I was about 5. That's when it all started and since then I am always looking for fresh figs. When I am unable find them, dried figs, but even better, fig jam will do as a replacement.

One of the best lunches in my life was when we took a boat in Istanbul to see the beautiful old houses on the waterfront of the Bosphorus. Towards midday the ferry docked in a small town of which I have forgotten the name. There we had to wait for several hours to take the same boat back to the city.

I found my way to a long line of women in front of the public toilets and I paid some money for a piece of paper which was very frugally handed out by a woman in a black caftan and scarf. I looked at the 2 sheets of paper that she gingerly had laid in the palm of my hand and hopefully looked up at her. It was clear that it was all I would get.

Walking down the main street we bought bread, grapes, olives, cheese and figs and we found a place on the banks overlooking the water to have our picnic. If you have never eaten fresh Turkish bread then you have missed something. The perfect combination of these simple foods and the luscious, ripe figs have left a lasting impression on me and added to my fig fascination.

When I was visiting my mother in Holland this fall I passed a Turkish grocery store and outside stood a basket with ripe figs. Soon the shop-owner and I were picking out the best and ripest fruits for my dessert that evening.

Holland has become a great big melting pot over the years and when I am there I much enjoy shopping a little at the Indonesian toko for my spices, and at the Turkish or Moroccan grocery stores for the things I cannot find in my area of the U.S.


  1. i hope you enjoyed your time in Istanbul :) i am turkish by nationality, my parents are from Istanbul but i am more connected to Ankara because I spent my best years there when i was studying at the univ. I also got married to Bas in Ankara and we lived there for about 3 years.
    and figs are my moms fave fruit :9

  2. Very much so, Sevi. I love countries where cultures meet. You would think that it would be easy to get figs here where I live but no, I have to eat them when I am in Holland.



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