Learning Fig Drying and Fig Roll Making from the Local Ladies

We'd not been in our new house long when fig harvest time arrived again. Two of my elderly neighbours, Carrie (Caridad) and Rosario's mum (never could remember, let alone pronounce her name) descended on my doorstep. 'Hija, (literally meaning - daughter) we've come to show you how to make fig rolls' said Carrie, the older, shorter and fatter of the two.

It had been on the cards. I'd followed their instructions, picked and dried my figs, now came the moment of making fig rolls, no escaping.

Cut Figs Drying in the Spanish Sunshine


Feeling of dinosaurian  proportions (I'm 5'5 to their 4'5 feet tall) I tried not to stoop to their level, which was not much taller than my youngest who was four at the time. They pulled out chairs, almost having to hop up (as if they could) onto them. Bottoms spilled out over the rush seats and toes just about reached the floor. Each kept hold of their walking stick, which as well as keeping them on their chairs served for pointing and thrashing about willy nilly (and I dare say other atrocites. I imagined the cackling pair getting up to), I kept my distance. The kids (my three sons) had disappeared elsewhere in the house, I would have too, if I could.

With my initiation about to begin my understandingof their local, rural Andalusian tongue was tested (and being shouted at as they all do, when you don't understand well, or not,) the words matriachal, dominant and scary were uppermost in my mind.

Brevas - Early Figs


Following instructions (or should I say orders) I boiled the figs (previously dried) with some orange peel and aniseed, drained and minced them and, when cool, rolled the mixture into phallic symbols. All the while watched, with murmurings probably of 'incompetence' 'no idea' 'poor soul' between them in Spanish. At the same time reproached ('too fat' 'too thin') and intimidated. Plenty of new words which we had to get around only to discover it was a local word or their terrible Andaluz pronunciation of something that I did know, but not the way they delivered it! Talk about being back at infant's school.

Having been adopted straight after my move (probably as needy) some of the lovely old dears would start shouting from halfway down the road 'Raaaaqueell'. I'd go our to find tiny Carrie (I always wondered where her voice came from) pointing her stick at me with one hand and gesturing her harvest of goodies held in her other hand and bulging apron.

'Mira. Caperrones' she elucidated. 'Do you like them?' she asked. I didn't think I did. A sort of harmless looking caper, rather like a tiny cucumber, that had me admitting yet again that I had never had them (nor wanted to try them.) 'You have to marinate them first' she said with barely disguised amazement that I'd  thought they could be eaten as they were.

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My early days with some of the loveliest ladies were special moments. I just found this writing in a notebook from many years ago and, though sad as neither are with us now, it reminded me of some of the lovely learning moments I'd shared with them.

See my post about drying Figs.




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