No. 20

The Fig Thief

I’ve been stealing figs off of neighborhood trees lately. I can’t help it: they’re so perfectly ripe and I know if I don’t eat it, a bird will. The tree owners just can’t pick them fast enough.

For a few months now, I’ve been scoping out the scene of my crimes: a gorgeous Black Mission Fig tree just a block and a half away from my apartment. I’ve been greeting the tree and figs every weekend, watching as they have grown and darkened and called to be picked.

I sent a handwritten letter in the mail addressed to “The Owners of the Beautiful Fig Tree”, hoping to buy some from the couple that lived in the house with the sweet porch. Majorie called me and apologized — they have so many friends who want figs, they simply couldn’t give me any, but (she did say this) I was welcome to try one when I passed yet.

So technically, I may not be stealing at all. But I like to think I am: stealing a moment, stealing a taste, stealing a little miracle (because figs are precisely that).

Today, for the first time, I noticed the fig tree directly across the street from my apartment building. I’m not sure how I’d missed it for so long, except that I never come and go on that side of the street. I paused to inspect the growing figs and began plotting my 4:50am raids (always just one, always the ripest that would waste if it weren’t for me).

It looks like I’m becoming a serial fig thief.

If I still lived in California where figs are plentiful, or in New Jersey across the street from the generous neighbor with fig trees (he has since moved), these are some recipes I would make:

Black Mission Fig Crème Brûlée
Fig, Hazelnut, and Buckwheat Financiers
A Figgy Cake
Fig Ice Cream

What would you do with an abundance of figs? (Please feel free to link me up to some recipes.)

{plate of figs photograph by Rowena, used under Creative Commons license; figgy cake photograph by Julie Marie Craig of Always With Butter, no licensing information available}

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24 thoughts on “The Fig Thief

  1. I think I can honestly say that I have never really tried a fig alone before. I think I always assumed that I didn’t like them, mainly because my mother loves them. I think I’ll have to give them a try.

    And I had half a mind to steal this title and change my blog title “The Fig Theif” I absolutely LOVE that!

    1. Oh, do try them, Freya! They’re wonderful. But I recommend getting them from a farmer or straight off a tree — that way, they’ll have been picked at the peak of their ripeness, which trust me, is way better than what you would get at a supermarket.

      And your little comment about the title just led me to buy that domain name. Sigh, one more to add to my collection…

      1. I could see you with a book of sort stories or something with that title. I’ve been thinking about it all morning haha And I shall NEVER stop giving you ideas!!!

  2. I love this little story! Have you ever read the book The Book Thief? (Great book.) But this reminds me of it so much… where the character steals unread books because otherwise they go to waste and no one else is reading them. It’s all very Robin Hood esque. ;)

    And honestly, I’ve never had a fig before! I don’t even know if they grow them here. Perhaps I should investigate!

    1. I haven’t read The Book Thief but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. It’s on my list of books to read.

      As for figs, I’ll see if I can swipe one and bring it to you on Wednesday!!

  3. my grandmother had a fig tree when i was growing up but i actually have never had a real live fig. i have had them dried though. you are making me want to give the real thing a try.

  4. Ladies, I have to say, given that I’ve talked about figs so many times, I’m surprised people still haven’t tried them! We need to fix that.

  5. I find figs to be mildly daunting, but we got some in our farmer’s market surprise basket last week, and I totally thought of you. ;)

  6. Figs are so delicious – and the thing is, I’ve spent almost my entire life not ever trying one until very recently!

    It’s never really seen in any Vietnamese markets, or Asian markets, for that matter, where I do the majority of my grocery shopping. I probably passed by them at Whole Foods and at the Farmers Market when I look for fresh produce and vegetables :p A few months ago, though, I tried prosciutto wrapped figs, and figs with burrata cheese and totally loved it, and couldn’t believe I never had it when I was younger.

  7. figs!!! hey, if your neighbors offered for you to sample one, there’s no crime in that! plus, we all need to live life on the edge once and awhile haha. i’ve only had fig in a grilled cheese sandwich and oh man, i died.

  8. See I was going to roll in here to confess that I don’t think I’d ever had a fig, but after reading the comments I see I’m not alone! I must incorporate a more varied fruit diet into my life. I love that you’re such a sneaky little thief about this by the way :p

  9. I haven’t had a fig in far too long. I can’t even remember if I like them. I probably due.

    And the title of this post would be perfect for a short story.

  10. You are soooo funny!!! I’ve done something like that with roses when bushes have so many that one never makes a difference.

    I like them in a salad with goat cheese… Yum!

  11. I’m a big fan of figs on pizza with red onion, some nuts, bit of ham, cheese and olive oil. Delicious! And it sounds fancy as soon as you say figs are involved. Love that you scope out your attacks on nearby bushes! So good! I do the same with my neighbours mulberry bushes- just the ones that are really ripe. The problem is the crime stains! I walk around with mulberry stained fingers and clothes. So worth it!

  12. Hehe. I love it. I especially love the phrase “serial fig thief,” though I can’t say it aloud without stumbling over it.

    I first discovered figs (outside of the Newtons) in Spain. The first time I got a perfectly ripened fig from an outdoor market and sat eating it out in the sunshine I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.