Hurry, hurry! Fresh fig season is almost finished for the year! It’s early October, and if you see fresh figs in any menu item right now, order that dish—whether an entrée (appetizer), plat (main course) or dessert (or all three, if you love fresh figs as much as I do). Especially do not pass up my favorite seasonal entrée–roasted figs and chèvre (goat cheese) with a drizzle of honey, served warm.*
I was so delighted to return to France from my summer vacation in time for mirabelle season (see my August 2016 post), that I completely overlooked the figs that were coming in, too. Fig and mirabelle seasons overlap. The two fruits sometimes even appear together in the same dessert.
My First Fresh Fig
I’ll tell you a little fig story. There were no fresh figs in my childhood in Minnesota. I loved Fig Newton cookies, sure. And, I could identify those hard, brown, squished, leathery-looking “things” in the dried-fruit tray we gave Grandma every year for Christmas as “the figs.” But, there were no fresh figs. No one cooked with figs or made them into pies. Nope.
Fresh figs first entered my life 16 years ago, when we moved to France. I hate to admit this, but I did not know what they were when I first laid eyes on them—plump, deep purple, teardrop-shaped dollops of heaven. I was shopping in my town’s open-air market when I spotted them. Each was partially wrapped in a bit of paper and carefully separated from its neighbor in a tray with little cupped depressions in it, because fresh, ripe figs are soft and fragile (not hard and dry!). My eyes wandered up to the little signs hanging overhead from the market stall awning … figues. Figs? “You’re kidding,” I thought to myself. I bought half a dozen to try and the rest, as they say, is history.
My husband, who has travelled all over the world for his job, and thus has much broader culinary experience than I do (but I’m catching up), knew they were figs and knew how to eat them, of course. A good thing, too, because I wasn’t sure if they needed to be peeled! Well, they became a favorite and I look forward to them every year. There are numerous varieties, but I stick to the big purple ones (la figue noire or figue violette) with their brownish-pink flesh, because they are beautiful to serve. Delicious goes without saying.
The advice from my August mirabelles blog post holds here, too: don’t overlook grocery stores as sources of tasty gifts and edible souvenirs. Even if you miss fresh fig season while you’re in France, consider buying some French-made confiture de figues (fig jam) to bring home! The figs themselves may come from several different countries, but the French-made jams are typically wonderful. And don’t miss the “true” fig haiku down below!
* (Note: I love fresh raw figs, but sometimes they cause my mouth and throat to itch a bit. The dried ones don’t do this. Cooking the fresh figs seems to break down the molecule causing the slight irritation for me, so I prefer them cooked. This works well for other fruit, too. Both apples and cherries are often served cooked at my house because the raw ones bother different members of my family. We enjoyed this roasted fig recipe several times this fall: http://www.popsugar.com/food/Easy-Roasted-Fig-Goat-Cheese-Recipe-9205886 )
Birds in the neighbor’s fig tree
Drop figs in my yard