Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Figs Figs everywhere!
The Occoquan farmer’s market has been offering a very special summer treat, fresh figs. My husband, Patrick, loves fresh figs and detests dried figs. For the past two Saturdays, I have gone to the farmer’s market and bought countless figs. We wrapped some in salami and Patrick would unwrap them and eat them separately. I am not such a purist and found the figs wrapped in Columbus artisanal finocchiona to be delicious. The combination of salty pork, buttery fat, and sweet juicy figs was an indulgence for my taste buds.
I love ice cream all year around but in summer feel the need for something cold and creamy on a nightly basis. My ice cream cookbook had a recipe for fresh fig ice cream. I had to give it a try and it was amazing. Even Patrick, the fresh fig purist loved it! I love short ingredient lists, this one was only two pounds of figs, water, sugar, cream, lemon and its zest. The combination created another wonderful color, a nice rich purple with a not doubt about it fig flavor.
I may love the colors of August, the pinks, purples, yellow, and green but I hate the heat. Fall is still my favorite season but some things only come in the heat of August. Fresh figs are a wonderful and rare treat. The fig season last about a second, are difficult to ship when fresh, and they stop ripening once they have been picked. The current food industry seems to love to pick things green them expose them to chemicals to force ripening. Or they expect the fruit to ripen in transit, the dark interior of a truck cannot produce the same sweetness as being in the sun.
It is sad to say that most people don’t know what a fresh fig looks like. We know them only as Fig Newtons which are filled with corn syrup and preservatives. Fresh figs are sweet, juicy, with an interesting texture. The combination of the skin, flesh, and seeds give it a bit of crunch. Figs are soft, delicate, and sensual. Inside they have a pink center that gets yellow toward the purple skin.
As long as the farmer's market has figs, I will buy them. They are a versatile fruit which makes the August heat more bearable. Maybe I'll try to make fig cake, or a gluten free fig newton, and what is figgy pudding?