My initiation was dumb luck.
I grew up eating Fig Newtons and never identified figs with anything else. When I was in my early forties...last year<chortle>...I was going over the desert menu in a NYC restaurant that featured mediterranean cuisine. It offered fresh figs with mascarpone and marsalsa. Normally, I would have gone for something more decadent-sounding, but i had had a heavy meal and didn't have much room left. Since I had never tasted a fresh fig, I ordered the dish with some skepticism.
The plate arrived with 4 dark figs that were "butterflied" (split into quarters and still attached at the stem) with a dollop of marscapone in the center of each, drizzled with Marsala, and garnished with fresh mint. Simple, elegant, DIVINE. I was immediately and hopelessly hooked and sought out fresh figs everywhere after that with little success.
They say that it was really a pomegranate that Eve ate in the Garden of Eden. Really!!???? I am positive that it was a fig. I can't say that a pomegranate is sinful, but a fig certainly is!
I immediately began researching fig culture, what little of it was availalbe, and finally found that Miller Nursey in the Finger Lakes district of New York offered Brown Turkey and Celeste (the same one that Herman ditched). I knew nothing about growing anything in pots so I dumped a couple of bags of TOPSOIL into a couple of pots and stuck the fig trees into them. The soil turned into concrete and it took 3 years to get my first 12 figs. Then I killed both trees that winter.
I gave up for a few years, but the thought of growing my own fresh figs haunted me after my very brief and modest success.
Why do I like them? They are sweet, flavorful, luscious and probably the easiest fruit tree in the world to grow.