As I was browsing through Amazon for books to download for our Italy trip I came across Stolen Figs:And Other Adventures in Calabria by Mark Rotella. The name alone brought back a number of childhood memories.
I've mentioned before that I grew up in Fresno, in California's Central Valley, where much of the nation's fresh fruit is grown. We lived in an area called "Fig Garden" that used to be miles of fig orchards. This is where I learned to drive, and everyone knew someone with a fig tree. Figs were abundant, and I grew to love them in the summers!
A memory I had forgotten was that when an east coast relative, or friend of my mom's came to visit, the first thing they wanted to see or do after arrival, was to GO STEAL FIGS. This always puzzled me. I was a child, then later a teenager, and duh...stealing was wrong! There were figs at the grocery store, and usually friends had figs to give away, so why were we going to STEAL some off a tree? My mother's answer was always, "They want to stand in the orchard and pick them and eat them off the tree. "
This activity used to SCARE me! Of course we weren't stealing crates of them, and there were figs at HOME. But I could see the joy on these Italian faces when picking and eating one or two off a tree in the blazing sun. As I got older, the visits continued, and eventually I drove the "Get-away car"! I preferred this as I could drop off the relatives and my mom, drive around, and come back to get them quickly and drive off. At least I wasn't the one picking figs that didn't belong to me OR trespassing, although I was clearly an accomplice!
Guess I've always been a good girl! Luckily, this activity didn't lead me toward a life of crime. Last week after going to 4 grocery stores to find fresh figs, I was READY to steal some, but Trader Joe's came through!
I'll be reading Stolen Figs on an airplane less than TWO WEEKS from now!