The Dubious Dozen (#7-#9: Violet Sepor, Hunt, Florea)

7. Violet Sepor looks like a smashed squash. Violet Sepor should get less respect than the little that it already does. The wall around the pulp is thick, the purple and gold colors of skin are a splotchy mess. The eye is big and makes you wonder how many bugs might crawl in and out tracking around who knows what gross detritus. And though the pulp of Violet Sepor is juicy, blazing red, and strawberry fresh, it sometimes lacks any especially intense flavor. So how has Violet Sepor managed to thrive and survive for so long? No one knows. Imagine that. Few probably care – who can blame them? Violet Sepor is either synonymous with or closely related to Bordissot Grise. It’s a reliable, productive fig of good size, with a pretty name, which you don’t always find in a fig, surprise, surprise. But what on Earth does it mean? Sepor? No one seems to know that either. The face of the fig can look like a patty pan squash as it develops. In what language is Sepor indicative of patty pan squash? Or indicative of anything? Best to pass on this fruit of indecipherable name that ripens like an oddball squash, no matter how juicy and decorative it might otherwise be. Maybe it’s not even a fig. One can only hope.

8. Hunt is a fig that only its breeder could love. At least he got what he wanted, as far as anyone knows. Bred in the early 1900s by highly accomplished agriculturalist E.W. Hunt of Georgia, the long bending neck and tight eye of this bronze variety allows Hunt to shed the heavy rains and resist the humidity of Georgia summers, which can otherwise spoil ripening figs. No one would mistake Hunt for a spoiled fig. Rather, it is not spoiled enough. The fig is shapeless, dull tan or brown, with oversize leaves that require enormous amounts of water to ripen its crop fully. The crops of Hunt are typically as modest in size as the fig itself. Sure, a well-ripened Hunt fig is an intense sugary gel of tinged strawberry and cherry flavor, occasionally to die for, but at what price? Dull colored figs should not be so reluctantly bearing or demanding of water and sun. Not everyone who grows figs lives in swamp and perpetual sun. For those who do, Hunt may have more appeal than could ever meet the eye. For anyone else, the marketing genius of this manmade fig is non-existent to negative. Sure Hunt can taste like liquified jam. But you are picking a worn old mushroom-looking thing and popping it into your mouth. Evidently E.W. Hunt loved his creation. Glad someone did. This humble droop of a fig will have to find consolation there.

9. Florea is the most boring fig in the world. Oh sure, Florea tastes sweet, fruity, sugar-berry, like LSU Tiger. And it ties for earliest ripening with Ronde de Bordeaux and Improved Celeste. Yes, it has nice leaves with lobes not too slender, not too thick like Brooklyn White. And sure, Florea ripens fruit plump and pleasant not unlike Marseilles Black. But all that only goes to show that there’s nothing unique about Florea. Its name? Florea reminds one of flower which is what the fruit of all figs are in essence, inverted flowers turned to pulp that ripen sweeter than stone fruits, without the pit. But how good can any fig be that reminds one of so many other absolutely insufferable figs? A fig with a Romanian name found perhaps most commonly in Bulgaria, Florea is the fig you forget exists, until it appears each year and threatens to ripen among the first of the season, tempting you into hovering over its tasteless growth and agonizing for weeks before it can be picked and disposed of properly. Florea is an early-ripe promise of the bounty to come. It’s a warning that ought to be heeded: flee the impending onslaught of figs or suffer the consequences that by now you know too well.

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