Dried figs

It is beyond doubt that figs are products of high quality,especially in the lands surrounding the Province of Vibo Valentia and in that of Catanzaro even before.

They can be eaten dried, stuffed with almonds or nuts,baked or used for the production of honey and sweets;but today,honey is certainly more used,because it’s easier to get.The deliciousness of figs is described in one of Giovanni Pascoli’s letters to G.Patari,( who was a famous essayist and journalist from Catanzaroand lived between the end of ‘800 and the beginning of ‘900)-sent at the end of ‘900 from Messina, where he was a Latin Literature teacher by the local University-He writes:" Dear teacher, I need some Calabrian products for my sisters and nephews and I don’t know whom I have to ask for .

I certainly know that dried figs are excellent,stuffed with almonds or nuts(I don’t remember exactly) and other kind of dried figs in rows without nuts and dried olives.

I’m sure you’ll arrange a way to order these products –whose memories for me go back to my basilisk times-to a local merchant, who will send me everything in a parcel".

The so-called figs "a croce",the ones with nuts or almonds can be easily found everywhere in Calabria(to be noticed that "or almonds" is an addition: maybe, the author, while reading again the letter,could remember more precisely); while dried figs in rows,without nuts are a flavoured speciality,more delightful coming from Vibo Valentia surroundings.These baked figs are golden-coloured and they’re so naturally delicious to disdain the stuffing with almonds and nuts, which sometimes alter their original taste.

We can really say that Calabria knew how to tempt the poet!

When Pascoli was a teacher in Basilicata(Busi Liceo Classico), in Matera to be exact, where he lived alone,without his sisters Ida and Maria,cheesed off by sirocco which prevented him from concentrating,he visited Catanzaro more than once, always remembering the magnificence of that hill overlooking a wonderful landscape.He went to Cosenza as well,in the zones between Amantea and Belmonte,once famous for the great production of figs,while today the cultivation has fallen,though a great market demand.

While standing in Catanzaro, Pascoli met Patari( a Literature teacher by "Galluppi liceo-ginnasio" at that time) who invited him and let him taste a homemade-by his sister- "potatoes froth",which the author never forgot!

The only reason why Pascoli didn’t ask for it in his letter is that it was impossible to post it!!!

Pascoli’s letter recalls his biographical poetic "feeling",but it’s also a way to praise his love for family,simple life and genuineness of Calabrian rural products.

Reading carefully, you can even get an "economic" reproach:he doesn’t know where to find the tasteful crocette and the honey dried figs in rows ,then conocchie,dried olives:all of them symbols of the typical time-honoured Mediterranean cuisine.

This short consideration allows us to understand the serious difficulties for Calabrian people to improve the turnover and exportation of their local products,whose request by tourists is really high.

Dried figs crocette

Typical Christmas sweets,but you can taste them anytime.

Let white figs get dried in the sun;cut them in two and stuff with nuts,almonds and small pieces of orange;arrange them in groups of 4,two by two,forming a cross.Sprinkle them with sugar;bake for ten minutes;then,sprinkle again with sugar and serve cold.Delicious!