Issue 10: Figs

by thomandaimee

As I write this now, Ned is in the kitchen preparing some items for this month’s issue (which will be pears). We thought we could get the momentum back on track but somehow, some events popped up and disrupted the schedule a little. A little promise to at least post the pear issue by the end of November. For now, it’s time for the poor little figs to shine.

Yet another uncommon fruit in our tropical climate, the fig is mostly associated with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine and is one of the oldest plant in civilisation. Sometimes we feel like we are veering off our fundamental ethos of local produce, no excuse we know. But we couldn’t help ourselves from being seduced by these fragile dark-blue fruits (or should I say, flowers) with blood-ruby red flesh. Imagine the colours on the plate! I wouldn’t mind growing figs in the garden but (a) we live in an apartment, (b) the weather might not be suitable and, (c) I’m terribly terrified of insects with stings (figs are dependent on wasps for reproduction).

The thing with vegetables and fruits: they should be eaten straightaway once they were rooted or plucked for maximum enjoyment. That’s before the sugar turns into starch, and figs do not ripen after being picked. Which only means, the ones we get in the markets are usually quite bland (a tip, always look for ripe ones when buying – they should be plump and quite soft to touch). Why bother then, you ask. I think they still deserve a little chance, with a little cajoling, they can become a wonderful addition to any dish. And this was something we experienced first hand, or first taste.

Although we only do get one type of varietal in the market here, it’s good to know that there are other types available if you are able to get your hands on them (and if you do, you are obliged to share with us *evil cackle*). From purple and black fruits, to the hardier green, yellow or brown ones, and we’re not too sure how each differ from the other. If we could ever have the chance, we would definitely have a taste test of our own. One thing’s for sure, we’ll be happy licking the sticky red juices off our fingers (now we sound like perverse vampires).

One thing we found out is how versatile figs are: they go very well in both sweet and savoury dishes and can dance the tango with a great number of other ingredients. Such as honey, yoghurt, marsala or madeira, spice (cinnamon, five spice), herbs (rosemary, thyme), nuts, dried-aired meats (proscuitto, parma), fruits (orange, pomegranate) and amazingly, young goat’s cheese and those full-bodied blue cheeses (Stilton, Gorgonzola). If we had a basket of them, we’d be off making fig chutney and jams. A pity that we don’t get more of these babies on this island.

We can only say that we’ve fallen in love with this sensual fruit and will continue to lust for it until we meet again.