Off to botany: why figs are not vegan

DThe gardening year was not kind to me, but at least I was able to harvest a few honey-sweet figs. It ended up being six or seven, which is a good harvest given the young age of my fig tree in the front yard. However, this honey-sweet summer memory was already three months ago. After that there were only figs from the supermarket, unflavored and carelessly harvested. Inside, they looked like minced beef in aspic.

Andreas Frey

Freelance writer in the science of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

The sticker did not show whether there was actually a piece of meat in the jelly-like mass. Meat in figs? There is no such thing as natural, the fig is counted as a fruit. But there are varieties for which animals have to die. In this respect, such figs are not vegan in the fundamental interpretation of a certain diet. And not a picnic for veritable friends of insects either. Because for the fertilization of the real fig, Ficus carica, get killed by insects. Their victims are fig wasps named after the plant, which belong to the wood wasps and don’t even have the family in common with the annoying yellow-black hummers in late summer. but F. charge where. housekeeper produces only female flowers and needs the pollen of a goat fig F. charge where. caprificus for fertilization. On the delivery service is Blastophaga psenes, the only fig gall wasp found in Europe, specializes – and this is how the drama takes its course: pregnant females injure themselves when trying to get into the inflorescence of a longhorned fig. They still lay their eggs, then they die. The larvae grow up here, the males hatch first and before they die again, they mate with the next generation of females. Those who escape the plant often carry the pollen with them – to other goat figs, or to a common fig, whose female flowers they pollinate. Not many female wasps survive this process, but juicy fruits can now grow. And the cycle kept going by the insects with three generations of figs a year starts all over again.

According to your taste: sweet or spicy

The deceased fig wasps will not be found in fruit as a meat accompaniment: enzymes completely dissolve their chitin shells themselves. Because fertilization is not trivial, breeders have long relied on self-pollinated varieties. There is one in my front yard, Frank, the horticultural technician I trust, told me. He had given me the plant six years ago. The variety is called Violetta, is also known as Bavarian fig, is considered particularly robust and frost-hardy. Even minus twenty degrees Celsius shouldn’t harm it, but young trees need winter protection. And as for the culinary arts for non-vegans: The aromatic figs go very well with cheese, but also with meat. Served as a sauce or with goat cheese, figs are a poem. Beef strips are recommended for meat eaters, strong red wines go well anyway. Whether bulgur or burgundy pan – the fig makes the difference.

For friends of raw fruits, however, a hard time of deprivation begins. You will have to wait a few more months for the next, unless you turn to the completely tasteless substitutes in the supermarkets. There is a time for everything, and that also applies to strawberries, raspberries and grapes, which are still on sale in December. You can’t bring summer back. The only thing that helps is patience, some call it anticipation.

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