At a recent visit to ‘that’ large hardware store, a pallet of fruit trees caught my eye – mango, cherry, persimmon, pomegranate and fig to name a few. Now we are a fig loving family, especially the six year old, who declares she loves them as much as blue cheese (God help us!).
As I delved into the green gloss to explore the varieties in front of me (Brown Turkey, Black Genoa…hmmm), a low, soft Mediterranean voice behind said, “The white fig. Only the white fig. They are sweeter.” I turned around to THE most gorgeous couple standing behind me, eager to share their knowledge of this succulent fruit.
Talking a hundred to the dozen, and finishing each other’s sentences (how cute), I was strongly encouraged to visit their house to try their fig before I made my purchase. Bless them! How did they know that I would love nothing more than to chat and explore their garden!
“Do you have a vegetable garden?” I asked. “Yes my dear, all our garden is salad, and vegetables, olives, I make my own olive oil. You MUST come!”
So this week I did! I enjoyed a few hours pottering around the garden with Ellie and Sam and then a chat over coffee hearing about their life in Newcastle and Greece.
Ellie (Helene) and Sam (Samuel) return to their home, Katerini, in Greece once a year. With Mt Olympus as a back drop, Ellie describes the land that her father left her. It is their pride and joy. They tend to this allotment of fruit and vegetables over the Greek summer which otherwise is maintained by a gardener.
They gather family and friends under the ancient olive trees and share a meal, Ellie’s homemade taramasalata, sardines and salad. The produce from their garden in Greece is incredible she says, and I believe her.
They are happy in Hamilton South though, their four children and their families are nearby and their garden gives them so much pleasure. For over 40 years they ran several businesses in Greta while raising their children. One look at their garden and you know they are just as hard-working today.
Every part of the garden is productive. Olive trees, apple trees, figs, coffee, strawberries, onions, chives, persimmon and the list goes on. Ellie reaches down to pick some leaves from a weed. “Dandelion. You must try this. It is very good for your blood.” Again I don’t argue! There are patches of rocket, eggplant, cucumbers and tomatoes. The radishes are bursting out of the ground. Ellie describes their day. Seed saving, distilling oil and baking. Although she says she doesn’t cook much these days. She enjoys salads and why not with produce this fresh!
We pick a couple of figs from the tree that she was saving just for me and we go inside. Oh my! I’m sold. The rich, creamy flavour is beautiful. She pours the coffee and we chat about travelling!
I wonder if they will adopt me?!
After a quick ring around to local nurseries when I get home, my day ends with a trip to a local inner city nursery for Newcastle’s last white fig. And it’s a beauty! I am so pleased with this early Christmas present and can’t wait for it to bear fruit to share with Ellie and Sam!
More about the fig… Native to the Mediterranean region, the fig tree appears in some images of the Garden of Eden. After eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve covered their nakedness with leaves that are usually said to be from the fig tree, and Islamic tradition mentions two forbidden trees in Eden—a fig tree and an olive tree. In Greek and Roman mythology, figs are sometimes associated with Dionysus (Bacchus to the Romans), god of wine and drunkenness, and with Priapus, a satyr who symbolized sexual desire.
What’s not to love about the fig!!