One time in the supermarket I saw figs and bought them, thinking they were the same figs I used to eat in Portland. When I bit into one of them and tasted a certain bitter flavor I was more than a little grossed out, rather, thoroughly confused. Eventually I uncovered the confusion and found that fruit variety matters greatly.
Let me tell you a little about figs. There is this plant called Ficus carica, it is native to the Middle East and its fruit is what we call the common fig (the Portland fig in my case). It looks like this:
Notice it’s purple on the outside and fleshy, red on the inside. In Spanish this type of fig is called “higo”.
Here is what the fig I bought at the supermarket looked like:
Notice it’s green on the outside and much lighter red on the inside. It turns out the same tree Ficus carica, “higuera” in Spanish, gives two different fruits depending on the rain and time of year. The higo is the second crop of the tree and the one I bought here, the “breva” is the first crop of of the tree. The breva is bigger in size than the higo, but not as sweet. Here brevas are cooked and soaked in syrup and spices then served with arequipe (dulce de leche). That dessert is so delicious it deserves it’s own post so I’ll leave it for next week.
Then there is another fruit sold in the supermarket by the name higo but that is not a fig. It’s actually the fruit of a cactus called Opuntia ficus-indica. Its name is tuna and it’s a fruit native to Peru, but here in Colombia it’s called higo tuna, which I guess then got shortened to higo). The higo tuna looks like this:
Notice it’s about the same size as the higo, but cactus-looking. The inside is much different though:
According to Syd it tastes kind of like persimmon, with a sort of similar solid-y texture. Having never tasted persimmon I can’t really confirm this, but I do know it’s yummy sweet.
That solved the mystery of the figs. For those of you who might live close to Mexico you ought to try the higo tuna since they are the number one producer.