My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 24-25, 2013: Crowd-sourced Studying

[With a new school year on the horizon, it’s important to acknowledge how much I continue to learn about America. So in this week’s series, I have highlighted—briefly, ‘cause I don’t know much yet!—subjects about which I’ve only recently learned. In this crowd-sourced post, fellow AmericanStudiers share some of what they’re still learning—please add your thoughts in progress!]
Todd Parry shares that, thanks to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, “in US law, Latinos are legally white.” And Todd adds that “the treaty was never ratified by the Mexican government, so technically is invalid.”
Kisha Tracy passes along one of the newest finds from the Slate Vault, this mid-20th century map of American folklore.
Steve Edwards highlights Dr. Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori, “the first American woman to win the Nobel,” whom he “learned about researching” his son’s “gastro issues & meds. Stories lurk around every corner.”
Susan Williams writes, “I have had a longstanding interest in Italian American city gardens and in fig trees in particular. Italian immigrants grew an amazing array of old world plants in their back yards to support their cooking and eating traditions, including tomatoes (of course), basil, garlic, other greens, peppers, eggplant, and lots of other stuff. Many (possibly most) of them had a fig tree growing in the back corner. Because figs are fussy about climate, preferring their native Mediterranean or California temperatures, they are hard, but not impossible to grow in the Northeast. I've read numerous stories about preparing the fig tree for winter, a procedure that typically involved either burying the tree in a pit of mulch or taking it inside. So a year ago, I ordered a little fig tree for myself from Logee Nursery to see what all the fuss was about. I had eaten fresh figs in Italy and loved them, but wanted to taste a fig right off the tree, my own tree. My little fig tree was unfortunately left out a bit too long last fall and dropped all of its leaves. At the time, I didn't realize that this was normal, but I didn't give up on my little upright (now) stick. I nursed it along all winter, certain that it was dead. Suddenly, with the return of light last spring, I noticed activity, buds even. It leafed out and by late spring had even produced a tiny fig! The fig has been growing all summer, turning a dark purple color, and I have been watching carefully for signs of interest from my local chipmunk population, gently squeezing the little fig and waiting for exactly the right degree of softness. Today was the day. I picked the fig, halved it, and was thrilled to see its interior pink figginess. I photographed it, quartered it, and ate it. If I had been more patient, I would have paired it with some prosciutto and a bit of homemade ricotta, drizzled with olive oil. But I wasn't. It was delicious as is!
Now on to the learning part. The fig story continues because my sister just presented me with another fig tree, a birthday gift, and it is much larger than my original tree and has about ten little figs on it. So today, I spent the morning searching for fig videos on YouTube to learn how best to care for this addition to my fig family. I learned that dropping leaves is normal, and that if you have a tree, you can even cut off the leaves to make your figs ripen before frost. I also learned various ways of wrapping the tree for winter, something any self-respecting Italian-American gardener already knows how to do. Finally, I learned that there is a whole world of fig-growing folks out there who have lots of advice for a fig newbie. I feel like I have just joined a new community that has long roots in the foodie world. Maybe some day I will even have figs to share!
Note: it always amazes me when my antennae are in tune with those of others. I just realized that there was an article on figs in the NYT last Friday, the day after my birthday fig tree arrived. Check it out:”
Next series starts Monday,
PS. So what are you still studying?

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