Monday, October 12, 2009
My first bite of a fresh fig was a year ago. That soft, silky flesh melding with the puny, popping seeds knocked me off my feet. I stood over the kitchen counter, staring in disbelief at the innocent fruit cradled in my hands, wondering how could I have gone twenty years and missed out on eating this deliciousness?
It is nearly a crime to nature that figs are only in season briefly (once each year in September), so you can imagine how many of them I have been greedily hoarding recently (basketfuls, really). I jumped up and tapped my heels twice in midair when I spotted them at my local supermarket last week.
Bringing them back home is another thrill. A ceremony takes place when I prepare them for my belly. Ripeness is tested by squeezing each one between my forefinger and thumb, then giving them a quick rinse under the tap, and finally, twisting off their stem. But my favourite part of this rite is splitting them open to reveal inside; trying not to get lost staring at its intricate details. Wavy lines interlace each other along a pink ocean, like an expensive Persian carpet. From another angle, they appear as a school of fish swimming to the center of a fountain, searching for food. How deceiving, a fruit no larger than a golf ball playing hide and seek, concealing its stunning kaleidoscope.
I do my best to wait until the rest of my breakfast is ready, but to no avail, I slip a quartered slice into my mouth. Mmm!! How the floral and candy flavors awaken my senses. Smear them with goat cheese and honey to transform it to a grown up version of lollipops—sweet and salty, eat with yogurt to marry smooth and seed-popping textures, or add it to salad for some flavor shock.
When early fall is over and I have to resort to other fruits to give me a natural high, I grunt at dried figs, wishing they could magically return to their freshly plump, beer-belly shape. Recipe here!