Sunday, 7 December 2008

Quiz in red

Villeneuve lez Avignon
Can you guess what this is? The bottom photo will help you. It shows the thick bushes of prickly pears growing at the foot of Philippe le Bel tower in Villeneuve lez Avignon.
Prickly pears also called Indian fig or opuntia are a variety of cacti which appear to be doing well in the region. I picked one of the figs and the juicy red base gives you an idea of what the fruit is like inside. The juice is as red as a beetroot's and stains just the same. If you want to try one, first you need good hand protection to pick the fruit then you must be careful to remove all pricks at the surface of the fruit (the usual method is by rolling it in sand) and then peel it. It has more seeds than fruit inside but the taste is refreshing and slightly tangy, quite nice!

Devinez-vous ce qu'on voit ici ? La photo du bas vous aidera. Elle montre les épais fourrés de figues de Barbarie aussi appelés figuiers d'Inde qui poussent au pied de la tour Philippe le Bel à Villeneuve les Avignon. Cette variété de cactus semble bien s'acclimater dans la région. J'ai cueilli une figue, laissant juste sa base juteuse vous suggérer un fruit dont le jus rouge tache autant que celui de la betterave. Pour en manger il faut commencer par bien se protéger les doigts pour la cueillir puis la débarrasser des épines qui le hérissent (la méthode habituelle est de la frotter dans le sable) puis la peler. On trouve à l'intérieur plus de graines que de chair mais son goût un peu acidulé ne manque pas de fraîcheur. J'aime assez !

29 comments:

Virginia said...

Nathalie, WHen I taught third grade for many years I delighted in teaching my students about the southwestern Native Amerian tribes and their customs. Certainly the prickly pear cactus was one we learned about. The saguaro another interesting one. Here in Birmingham we have some of these prickly pears as well. How they survive below freezing temps that we sometimes have is a puzzle.
V

Barman said...

Figues épines sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble.
Je ne manquerai pas d'y goûter à la première occasion.
Un peu de fraîcheur par les temps qui courent ne fera pas de mal...

Jilly said...

I have these in the garden but the fruit looks different to these, although they are certainly prickly pears. Perhaps there are different varieties?

Actually this year there was little fruit - last year loads of it - perhaps lack of rain in Spring.

Not the easiest fruit to eat with its horrid prickles. As you say, roll in sand - my neighbour puts them into a bag of sand and rolls them.

Babzy said...

très jolis figuiers !

Seb! said...

Un feu d'artifice végétal qui ne manque pas de piquant... aïe !
Décidément... le monde entier est un cactus... ouille ;-)

Bergson said...

une photo dédicace à Dutronc !!

Abraham Lincoln said...

These photos bring back 1952 memories when I was an actual cowboy in Northern Arizona on land leased from the Apaches whose homeland was then in the White Mountains. While there were not a lot of them where I was that was the only thing living that was green all the way from Tucson to Show Low, Arizona.

Sharon said...

Now this is something I'm very familiar with. We have an abundance of prickly pear cactus in Arizona and jams, jelly, and candy is made from the fruit. Great photos.

nathalie said...

Sharon - Jams, jelly?
Now that looks like a good idea. I wouldn't mind harvesting the lot, putting them in a sand bag to get rid of the pricks (thanks Jilly) and giving it a go!

Nathalie said...

I have to confess that the day I tried that one, I rolled the fruit in grass rather than in sand (there was none) and peeled it but that obviously wasn't enough because I found myself with several extra-fine needles planted in my tongue - it was dreadful and scary. I tried to spit and remove them with tweezers but they were almost invisible to the eye. I spend a pretty horrendous two hours before they finally got out. So... be extra careful when you eat them!

Je dois avouer que le jour où j'ai pris ces photos, j'ai roulé la figue de Barbarie dans de l'herbe et non dans le sable (il n'y en avait pas) et je l'ai pelée, mais ça n'a pas dû suffire car il m'est resté plusieurs aiguilles ultra-fines plantées dans la langue, c'était horrible. J'ai essayé de cracher et de les retirer avec une pince à épiler mais elles étaient quasi invisibles et j'ai passé deux heures bien douloureuses et angoissées avant qu'elles ne s'en aillent. Donc ne pas sous-estimer la question des épines !!!

AnneduSud said...

Truc de dingue, les épines dans la langue!
Je n'aurais même pas imanginé que ces figues puissent être comestibles et n'ai aucune envie d'essayer... déjà que les figues "normales" ne trouvent pas gré à mes yeux...

jill said...

I had a tiny jar of Prickly Pear jam once. Not sure how they are harvested, but hopefully with thick leather gloves.

Kris said...

They are a disaster here in Australia!

krystyna said...

Prickly pears? Wow, good to know!
Thank you for sharing!

My best wishes to you!

nathalie said...

Kris what do you mean? Are they a pest?

Adam said...

Why didn't you try rolling your tongue in some sand? In that situation, I think I'd have been capable of trying anything!

Kris said...

We don’t like these guys here in Australia. They were bought out here in the nineteenth century for use as a natural agricultural fence and in an attempt to establish some sort of dye industry. Unfortunately, they liked the look of the place and pretty quickly became an invasive weed; we’re talking something like 40,000 square kilometres of farming land made unproductive.

That said, it is mighty pretty!

ALSO, you were right about that Tampax ad, it turns out that it was from a French satirical magazine from 1972. I've amended the post!

Neighbour said...

Peut-être en faisant un jus ?

delphinium said...

c'est ce qu'on appelle "avoir une langue piquante". :-)
Les trucs qui piquent, ce n'est pas mon truc. Je tiens trop à ma langue qui n'est pas de bois. Heureusement. J'aime bien la 2ème photo. Un gros plan sur les cactus et les vieilles pierres en arrière-fond. ça réchauffe de voir des cactus avec le froid qu'il fait. Pas de cactus chez moi, rien qu'un tout petit peu de soleil, un vent froid qui souffle et peu d'entrain.
Faut s'accrocher, mais pas aux cactus. Bises

Sally said...

Hi Nathalie

Thanks for your recent message, and sorry I haven't responded - so very busy.
Jorn Utzon's deaths caused a fair bit of news, of course, and some retrospectives, but then the news ccycle moved on and it's faded from the public mind of course. Hopefully the project in progress with his sone to realise his interiors will carry on and survived the economic downturn.

I have never tasted prickly pears and have never even thought about them being edible really.

Château-Gontierdailyphoto said...

Le complément d'information que tu donnes dans les commentaires au sujet des épines ne donne pas envie de faire l'essai. Je me contenterai des figues traditionnelles pour apaiser ma gourmandise.

Bergson said...

Bon tu te dévoues pour nous les épépiner ?

Nathalie said...

Euh Bergson, c'est là qu'une centrifugeuse serait la bienvenue, comme pour le fruit de la passion !

Maxime said...

J'ai ramassé une fois des figues de barbarie avec mes enfants. C'était il y a 20 ans environ, et depuis on ne nous y a jamais repris ! Il faut dire qu'on s'y était pris comme pour ramasser des fraises...

Mo said...

Its easier just to buy them in the tin. I didn't know they grew in France though.

Anonymous said...

That is when Nathalie has a too sweet tootth ! ! !
I love opuntia and cacti.
But: don't forget: "Qui s'y frotte,s'y pique" ! ! !

MmeBenaut said...

I know that they are delicious and I had a ghastly experience as a young girl when my sister and I picked some. We were caught by the owner of the prickly pear who, with thick gloves and a sharp knife, peeled us one to eat. We spent a long time soaking in the bath, trying to get the prickles out of our fingers!

I don't think I've ever seen them in tins in the shops here though and I haven't had one for years.

Nathalie said...

Maxime, oui j'ai commencé comme toi. La leçon a été rude. Peut-être que je devrais suivre le conseil de Mo et les acheter en conserve? Pourtant l'idée de faire des confitures me plaisait bien...

Nathalie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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