Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Piaceri d'Italia: Fichi


Remember this series? I barely did!

As I have previously mentioned, Summer keeps coming back for encores, refusing to give the stage to Fall. This week, Rome is again back in the high '80s F (30s C). So since it still feels like summer, I thought I would take this opportunity to write about an end-of-summer treat, fichi i.e. figs!

You might recognize the leaves before your recognize the fruit. Fig leaves are common symbols of decency often used by sculptors and painters to cover up a human figure's "unmentionables." It is also one of the oldest fruits recognized by men; there are mentions of figs as far back at 2500 B.C. (Want more history?)

In the U.S., I would venture to say that the only widespread exposure to figs are the cookies, fig newtons. I don't dislike this cookie. However, not only are fig newtons a vast misrepresentation, they are a HUGE insult to the fruit. Figs are a lot less sugary and dense than the cookie filling would have you believe. Real figs are delicate and sumptuous and unlike any other kind of fruit you have tried.

I personally think that figs are so amazingly tasty that I wouldn't dare cook them or do anything but eat them fresh. However, there is a slew of recipes and ways to use this fruit from wrapping them in prosciutto to eating them with caramelized onions and goat cheese. So knock yourself out. Do me a favor though? Try eating one plain first. If you don't love it, douse them in oil and deep fry them if you fancy. Just don't tell me about it.

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