Thursday, 9 September 2010


I love figs, and for several days now I have been coveting the green fig trees at the local farm, waiting for an opportunity to leap over the gate in a single bound (well perhaps not!) and ‘borrow’ some ripe ones before the birds get them. No luck yet, but yesterday I did come across some black figs – yum!

I’d been told that figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium so are fabulous for people who are lactose intolerant and a quick Google search also threw up that the fig was one of the first plants that was cultivated by humans and remnants of figs have been found in excavations of sites traced to at least 5,000 B.C. Blimey!

However, the most interesting line of enquiry was actually where the phrase ‘I couldn’t give a fig’ originates. Apparently, the saying is based on the Spanish Fico (= Fig) which gave its name to a traditional gesture of contempt made by placing the thumb between the first and second fingers. The gesture was common in Shakespeare's time and was known as The Fig of Spain. Exactly the same gesture and phrase occur in Italy where Italians call making the gesture "far fica", but in polite speech it is referred to ‘fico’ (fig) as in ‘Non vale un fico’ (it's not worth a fig).

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