There once was a town long ago that was known for its figs. Day in and day out
the townspeople ate nothing but variations on figs: milk and honey glazed figs, figs with goat cheese and peppery arugula, figs wrapped in prosciutto, fig Barbari bread, flakey
namoura with fig preserves, juicy lamb with fig reduction, fig panna cotta, almond fig cakes, fig tarts, warm and soft maamouls…but mainlly they ate raw figs from the trees, early in the morning when the fruit retained the most water.
They lived happily that way until their town came overrun with metallic green fig beetles. They could no longer eat figs raw for fear of crunching down on a cold, splintery beetle. The beetle’s sharp wings shredded the townspeople’s soft challis curtains and at night they awoke to prickling beetle legs crawling up their legs and spines. After much frustration, the townspeople knew who to appoint to rid them of the beetles.
He was a man named Triboulet, a hardworking man (for the right price). They offered
Triboulet a great sum of money to do the job. The next day, early in the morning,
Triboulet waltzed up and down the streets on his flute, playing a hot, dead tune. The
townspeople were skeptical but soon they heard a great thrumming noise. Triboulet broke into a sprint, headed towards the western outskirts of town. Just as he did, a huge mass of green-black beetles surged up from its hiding place and tore across the sky. The sharp wings and thunderous buzz knocked all the figs off of the trees, and those that weren’t already rotted with larvae and beetle dung were smashed to the ground.
Once Triboulet returned from leading the beetles into the desert, he asked for his money.
The townspeople, devastated by their loss of figs, refused. After a great battle Triboulet
retreated to a nearby cave to wait. Long after nightfall the next day, he crept into the
village with his flute. That night, beneath the quiet humming breeze, came Triboulet’s peaceful, creamy song, lulling the town’s children out of their beds with corn husk dolls dangling from hand. He led the dozing children out to the river, but even after he stopped playing, they would not come to a standstill.
Nightgowns blistering like mushrooms, the children swayed into the shallows and kept walking until all that was left were dead corn leaves bobbing on a cold, curdling froth.