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 its easier to get.The deliciousness of
figs is described in one of Giovanni Pascolis 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 dont know whom I have to ask for
I certainly know that dried
figs are excellent,stuffed with almonds or nuts(I dont remember exactly) and other
kind of dried figs in rows without nuts and dried olives.
Im sure youll
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 theyre 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
didnt ask for it in his letter is that it was impossible to post it!!!
recalls his biographical poetic "feeling",but its 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 doesnt 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
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!