Saturday, August 9, 2014

Giving a Fig

Last year, a friend of mine gifted us with a bag of figs.
I made fig jam and it was delicious:

I just noticed that the figs on our over-shaded fig tree are just beginning to ripen.
I'm excited about that because we like to pluck them and eat them right under the tree.
We don't get many, just enough. 
Here's last year's crop, all that was left after the birds and squirrels got their share:

Faced with an impending fig harvest of minor proportions, 
I started thinking about the expression "give a fig,"
as in "I don't give a fig."
According to the Oxford English Dictionary,
fig in this expression is not a euphemism for the f-word in English.
The expression dates back to Shakespeare's time
when a Spanish insult  was to display one's thumb 
tucked between the index and middle finger.
This gesture, called fico, was referred to as the Fig of Spain.
Displaying the Spanish fico meant something or someone 
was inconsequential, without value, or contemptible.
As often happens, the meaning takes on different nuances over time.
So the newer meaning of not giving a fig means you don't care
because it's beneath your contempt.
Even so, I have to say I do give a fig-- 
about sweet ripe figs on a summer day. ;-)

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