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There are few healthier symbols of the Dalmatian lifestyle than figs. Not only are fig trees everywhere in the region, but they appear in almost every aspect of daily life – as medicine, rakija and a variety of dishes.

With over 800 different sorts of fig, there is plenty of choice, and figs are best eaten straight from the tree. It is said that the first figs were planted in California by immigrants from Korčula, although a stronger theory is that the first figs came earlier from Spain. What is true is that you will rarely see a Dalmatian too far from a fig tree!

There are no organised fig plantations as such, and fig trees mostly grow wild all over the region, often in olive groves, but their taste is delicious. They can be enjoyed fresh from the trees in the summer months, but they are also preserved so that they can be enjoyed all year round.

In order to do that, the picked figs need to be dried. After picking, they are washed and then laid out on a wooden board and exposed to that ubiquitous Dalmatian sun, being turned daily until they turn a golden brown. They can they be frozen in bags and enjoyed whenever the moment is right. The drying process usually takes place in August.

As with many Dalmatian fruits and herbs, figs have great health benefits, some proven and some old Dalmatian wives' tales. They are good for an energy boost, for example, as well as a cure for a sore throat. Rich in fibre, they help with constipation, and if you have a skin irritation, what can be better than rubbing a fig on the skin?

While fresh figs from the tree is the easiest way to enjoy them, figs appear in many different forms in the Dalmatian lifestyle. Unsurprisingly in a region with the motto 'if it grows, we will make rakija from it' many figs are transformed into rakija. Rakija smokovača is one of the most delicious types of strong liquor you will try in Dalmatia or anywhere else.

Also, one of the most popular uses is in the very popular Dalmatian Fig Spread, a health and tasty addition to any sandwich. The spread has a shelf life of 3 years unopened, and 3-4 weeks refrigerated once opened. And fig jam is delicious, especially when made to homemade recipes, where you will find every family claiming that their fig jam is the best in the region.

Dalmatia is blessed with a rich selection of natural herbs, vegetables of fruit which contribute to the Mediterranean Diet which achieved intangible UNESCO heritage status in 2013. Along with olives, figs are at the heart of that goodness. The only question remains – how will you be taking your figs on your next trip to Dubrovnik?

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