As a Canadian friend who lives in France noted, "Only in France could we have a Brotherhood of the Fig." Today we visited our neighbor village of Caromb for the Fig Festival. Fig connoisseurs throughout Provence will tell you that Caromb figs are the best. Yes Keira Knightley, even better than Mazan figs.
Fig fans by the hundreds lined the village's main street, sampling all variety of products. There are white figs, striped figs, green figs, fig jam and fig wine, but the real star of the day is the Fig Noire de Caromb. It's distinctive long shape, black skin and sweet purple flesh makes it the perfect summer snack. We especially love them served on a slice of baguette with a bit of goat cheese on top.
Of course there is more to the Fig Festival than just figs. Jams, ice cream, cookies, pastries and more line the street. It takes an iron-strong will to walk the length of a market in Provence and not indulge in the endless variety of decadent goodies offered by the local producers. That's not us -- we try everything.
As we worked our way through town we heard the distinctive chatter of an excited French crowd. We had found the free aperitif table (merci Saint Marc Cellar)! Free wine is one of our favorite French market traditions. And we're not talking just free sips of wine; these are proper glasses of serve-yourself wine (along with water, fruit juice and chips for kids).
We are fortunate that we have discovered a few locations where Caromb fig trees go unharvested. When the figs are ripe and falling off the tree we fill bags with plumb black fruit that we eat, freeze or give to friends. When we have more than we can manage we make them into a delicious Fig Tart.
Sipping our complimentary rosé we walk through the market and munch on a few ripe black figs while a traditional Provencal band plays our soundtrack. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.