Tuesday, December 3, 2013


In Margariti, fresh figs picked from the tree are green with a rich red inside. When ripe, they're sweet like raspberry jelly. And the trick to getting them so, is in picking each one just as that green skin is cracking open. However, that can be a problem at times, because the same one you've had your eye on, while walking past that fig tree day after day, is the one that many others have been salivating over, except no one really mentions it. No one says, "See that fig up there? That's mine. Don't touch it, okay? You can get the next one."  

So when you go to pick it, because you've waited one more day so it could be just right, succulent in its sweet-candy flavor--it's gone! And the culprit will remain a mystery as I learned that first time, as I stood in front of the fig tree of choice, naively scratching my head and asking, "Hey! Who took that fig? I was waiting for it to get ripe."

There's no point in such a question. It never gets answered. You just scope out a new one and try again. Chances are it was taken by someone who was just passing by, like a neighbor or a visitor, even though he has his own fig trees, because it's a well-known fact in Greece that, "Stolen fruit is the tastiest." No joke. Quite a few people have recited that line to me at one time or another as I've stood in front of a freshly-picked-clean bough with a perplexed look on my face.

Below is Uncle Mike in Perdika. He is the husband of Chevi's sister, Ioanna.  Their fig tree has the best figs in Epirus. I mean it. Delicious!

I asked Uncle Mike to stand for this photo, away from the fig tree, so that I could get the spectacular view that he has from his backyard, but the photo really doesn't do it justice.

When Nick was a young boy, he and his friends would spend all day at the beach in Perdika and then hike up to the town to visit Aunt Ioanna and Uncle Mike. She would ask them if they wanted food, and they would be polite and say, "no," even though they were famished. But she would ignore their response and fry up some freshly cut potatoes which they would proceed to gobble down, so she would prepare more until they seemed satisfied. But there were long breaks between each helping as her frying pan couldn't quite keep up with their hunger. So while she continued to peel, cut and fry, the boys would climb the fig tree for the delicious figs. 

Chevi took a branch of that exact tree and planted it at home in Margariti. The tree did grow but the figs are not as tasty as in Perdika. Perhaps it's the view below that makes them thrive. I know if I were able to look out over that view every day, I would certainly be energized. 

Unfortunately, Aunt Ioanna is gone now, but if you're ever passing through Perdika during fig season, you should stop and say hi to Uncle Mike.  Not only will he offer you the most delicious figs in the world (yes - the world!) but he will also offer you some friendly conversation in a yard that is overlooking one of the sweetest views in Epirus.

I'd love to hear from you!

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