Bardacık Fig

Ark of taste
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The common fig (Ficus carica) originated in the Near East and is fundamental to the gastronomies of the Eastern Mediterranean and West Asia. Herodotus said that, in Anatolia, fig culture is as old as human culture—indeed, figs were among the very first plants that humans domesticated. Turkey is home to numerous varieties of fig, and today produces about a quarter of the world’s total fig crop each year. One of the places best known for the quality of its figs is Izmir, on Turkey’s Aegean coast, and one of the most highly regarded fig varieties from this region is the bardacık.

The bardacık fig is a Smyrna-type fig, meaning that it produces no pollen and, therefore, in order for its fruits to develop, relies on fig wasps to carry pollen from a caprifig, a type that does produce pollen, but whose fruits are inedible. (Smyrna is also the old name for Izmir). The presence of fertilized seeds inside Smyrna-type figs is what gives them their excellent flavor and distinctive texture. (It should be noted that the “seeds” are actually the fruits, while the fig, which we think of as a fruit, is actually a hollow stalk, the inside of which is lined with the tiny fruits.) Bardacık figs are medium large and light yellowish green. They have a relatively thick, crisp skin, but are very gentle and prone to damage. As they ripen, fine cracks develop in the skin; this is one of the variety’s characteristic features, and the locals of Izmir express their love of this fruit by saying that “bardacık figs crack with pleasure.” The inside of the fig is light pink. Though they can be dried, bardacık figs are traditionally eaten fresh, and the variety is renowned for its incredible flavor and fragrance; these figs are much sought after during their short season, which lasts from mid-July mid-August. Eating them greedily is considered bad manners. People often eat bardacık figs on their own because all other fruits pale in comparison.

Bardacık figs are not grown on a large, commercial scale. The trees are found in most neighborhoods of Izmir, as well as in the surrounding towns of Salihli, Emiralem, Kemalpaşa, and Torbalı, which hosts a festival dedicated to bardacık figs in August. Because these figs are easily damaged and rarely dried, they are seldom sold outside of this region, and even in Izmir are usually only found in small markets. One of the reasons that the production of bardacık figs has remained so limited is because many producers find that growing varieties suited for drying is more lucrative.

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Ege Bölgesi

Production area:Izmir