Another part of summer almost passed me by—the deliciousness of figs. There’s a bit of history here. When my parent retired to North Carolina, they had a huge row of fig bushes, so tall we used to put my oldest son on the top of our van too pick the fruit from the top. Mom served them many ways—I especially remember stewed—and I didn’t much think I cared for them.
I have a fig bush tucked away in a corner of the house in the back yard. For years, it bore a little fruit—not much but a little. And the birds and squirrels usually beat me to the figs before they ripened. One years it was an infestation of rats. My daughter was sitting on the deck, late at night, and asked, “Do you hear that squeaking?” I said I did, and she said, “It’s rats.” I dismissed it—what did she know about rats? Turned out she was right—they would boldly steal figs in front of us, or we’d see them running in the trees at night. My friend Elizabeth, who lived in the garage apartment for a while, would look out and see them frolicking in the yard in mid-day. Once one fell out of a tree and missed Elizabeth’s wine glass by inches. By the time I called an exterminator, the figs were gone. Now, the tree doesn’t bear—maybe it was the trim it got last year or the year before, and maybe it’s the fact that it’s tucked away in the shadiest corner and gets no sun. I stopped worrying—or thinking—about figs.
Until a few days ago the newspaper had a recipe for fig salad with gorgonzola toast. I decided to make it for a Saturday night dinner guest. The same night I found the recipe, my friend Gayla came to pick up her new dog and took me for an elegant dinner that included a fig and grilled plum salad—divine!
So tonight I fixed the recipe—it called for making a dressing of figs with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon, salt and pepper—and water if it was too thick. Next time I think I’d forego the dressing and just use a light vinaigrette. But the combination of figs and gorgonzola toast was magic. We had also fixed ourselves a sort of chacuterie/antipasto platter—salami, cheese, chopped liver, deviled eggs. But I was full from the salad. Lots of leftovers for tomorrow.
I’m sad that figs are going out of season just when I discovered how wonderful they are.