Fig is a fruit without a visible flower, a symbol of blessing and prosperity in the ancient world, a symbol of sexuality and modesty in the Renaissance, and a lovely perfume note today. The sensuous smell of figs!
My practical friends praise their homemade fig jams, yet Plato was more interested in their mental-stirring qualities, claiming that figs stimulate intelligence. I am blessed with a big fig tree in my summer cottage backyard – the smell and the taste of freshly picked figs served on a terrace overlooking the sea is my beloved summer morning ritual and olfactory thrill.
Now that Autumn is nearing, fig scents can offer a welcome reminder of summertime sensuality. Did you notice that the whole fruit resembles male genitalia, but when cut in half-female ones?
The best fig-centered fragrances balance the warmer and cooler tonalities and recreate just that ambient I describe, of cool green shade on a hot summer day, underneath a luscious fig tree, pine scent mixing with salty sea air, while cicadas are loudly singing.
Miss that sensual feeling of a late August night? Find your favorite fig-scented perfume! Here are some suggestions/designers mostly.
A fig-themed fragrance that inspired this post: Figue Molinard.
Poem: Figs by DH Lawrence
THE proper way to eat a fig, in society,
Is to split it in four, holding it by the stump,
And open it, so that it is a glittering, rosy, moist, honied,
heavy-petalled four-petalled flower.
Then you throw away the skin
Which is just like a four-sepalled calyx,
After you have taken off the blossom with your lips.
But the vulgar way
Is just to put your mouth to the crack, and take out the
flesh in one bite.
Every fruit has its secret.
The fig is a very secretive fruit.
As you see it standing growing, you feel at once it is symbolic:
And it seems male.
But when you come to know it better, you agree with the
Romans, it is female.
The Italians vulgarly say, it stands for the female part; the
The fissure, the yoni,
The wonderful moist conductivity towards the centre.
The flowering all inward and womb-fibrilled;
And but one orifice.
The fig, the horse-shoe, the squash-blossom.
There was a flower that flowered inward, womb-ward;
Now there is a fruit like a ripe womb.
It was always a secret.
That’s how it should be, the female should always be
There never was any standing aloft and unfolded on a
Like other flowers, in a revelation of petals;
Silver-pink peach, venetian green glass of medlars and sorb-
Shallow wine-cups on short, bulging stems
Openly pledging heaven:
Here’s to the thorn in the flower! Here is to Utterance!_
The brave, adventurous rosaceae.
Folded upon itself, and secret unutterable,
And milky-sapped, sap that curdles milk and makes _ricotta_,
Sap that smells strange on your fingers, that even goats won’t
Folded upon itself, enclosed like any Mohammedan woman.
Its nakedness all within-walls, its flowering forever unseen.
One small way of access only, and this close-curtained from
Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward,
Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,
Where everything happens invisible, flowering and fertilisa-
tion, and fruiting
In the inwardness of your you, that eye will never see
Till it’s finished, and you’re over-ripe, and you burst to give
up your ghost.
Till the drop of ripeness exudes,
And the year is over.
And then the fig has kept her secret long enough.
So it explodes, and you see through the fissure the scarlet.
And the fig is finished, the year is over.
That’s how the fig dies, showing her crimson through the
Like a wound, the exposure of her secret, on the open day.
Like a prostitute, the bursten fig, making a show of her
That’s how women die too.
The year is fallen over-ripe.
The year of our women.
The year of our women is fallen over-ripe.
The secret is laid bare.
And rottenness soon sets in.
The year of our women is fallen over-ripe.
When Eve once knew _in her mind_ that she was naked
She quickly sewed fig-leaves, and sewed the same for the
She’d been naked all her days before,
But till then, till that apple of knowledge, she hadn’t had
the fact on her mind.
She got the fact on her mind, and (quickly sewed fig-leaves.
And women have been sewing ever since.
But now they stitch to adorn the bursten fig, not to cover it.
They have their nakedness more than ever on their mind,
And they won’t let us forget it.
Now, the secret
Becomes an affirmation through moist, scarlet lips
That laugh at the Lord’s indignation.
_What then, good Lord_! cry the women.
_We have kept our secret long enough.
We are a ripe fig.
Let us burst into affirmation_.
They forget, ripe figs won’t keep.
Ripe figs won’t keep.
Honey-white figs of the north, black figs with scarlet inside,
of the south.
Ripe figs won’t keep, won’t keep in any clime.
What then, when women the world over have all bursten into
And bursten figs won’t keep?
The Plum Girl
Photo: The Plum Girl archive – figs served for breakfast, August 2016.