Monday, September 27, 2010


My first experience with figs was in 2003 when I was presented with a 5 gallon vat of (what I perceived as) foul, wrinkled, pickled, yellowish, mushy, and all together unpleasant fruit. Along with the vat, I was given instructions to slice them into quarters and then go and peel approximately 900 piece of slimy slippery ginger. I was in college and my diet of Annie's Mac and Cheese and Magic Hat #9 had not lent itself to an appreciation of "fig and ginger jam" (goes well with goat cheese!), so I vowed I would never eat figs again.

And then I moved to Italy where they have the most amazing selection of seasonal fruit. The quality of produce here is beyond belief-- tomatoes taste like candy, peaches are mind-bendingly good-- watermelon is consumed for dessert, and the reason-- no one seems to import out of season produce. There are no artichokes in June. Your loquats can only be found in the late spring-- markets and menus change according to what's ripe. How novel!

This summer I fell in love with prosciutto and melone and the end of cantaloupe season was sad-- what sweet fruit could possibly take its place?

Turns out-- figs.
I revise all previous statements on figs-- they're crunchy and sweet and soft and work really well with prosciutto.

They're also filled with wasps... but we'll overlook that for now.

I was so pleased with the fichi, I decided to branch out and try the Fichi d'India-- In English we call these prickly pears-- our name addresses the hazards associated with consuming spined fruit. Their name does not. Naming aside, I was under the impression they clean off all the needles before they sell them in the supermarket-- goring shoppers is never good for business, right? The invisible ones stuck in my thumb speak to my naive American attitudes. And though they are a gorgeous purple color, they a) accosted me and b) do not go well with prosciutto
so farewell Fichi d'India-- the remaining two will stay in this bag, and here's hoping they go out of season very soon.


Simon said...

1. Does this mean you will give Fig Newtons another try?

2. Otto told me a hilarious story once about being in Sicily and picking up a prickly pear and having to spend the rest of the day removing tiny spines from his hand. Well, it was hilarious to ME. I guess probably it wasn't that funny at the time.

Ivan said...

There is a special place in hell reserved for fig newtons. It's right next to a prickly pear stand.