Figs!

A few days ago, I posted a photo of my most recent produce haul from the store, and my haul included a little basket of fresh figs – the first fresh figs I’ve seen this summer.  That prompted a comment from my reader Mary, who asked:

David, what are figs like? How do you eat them?

Good question, Mary!

Before last summer, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a fresh fig before, let alone tried one.   I had spent my entire life eating figs in two ways: dried, and as the key ingredient in Newtons.  One of my favorite recipes to serve a large group stars dried figs, which are reconstituted in red wine as part of the Gorgonzola, Fig, and Pecan Cheese Terrine, which I saw on Food Network years ago, back when The Hearty Boys, winners of the first season of The Next Food Network Star, still had their show.  (Incidentally, I haven’t made that recipe since starting this weight loss endeavor, and I don’t want to, unless I can come up with a way of making it healthier – it starts with 1.5 sticks butter and 1 pound cream cheese!)

Here are some of the figs I bought the other day:

It turns out there’s a wonderful reason why I didn’t see any fresh figs growing up in Michigan:  Figs are a spectacularly fussy fruit.  Many fruits are plucked from the tree before they’re ripe, and then they ripen during the shipping process to your local store, or on your counter after you buy them – but you can’t do that with figs.  Figs that are picked before they’re ripe just don’t ripen.  They have to ripen on the tree, or they won’t ripen at all.

Then, you have to contend with the fact that figs are difficult to ship, for two reasons:  They bruise really easily, and they have a very short shelf life – a few days, tops.  So getting fresh figs into markets that are far from where they’re grown (in warm, dry climates like California, the middle east, and northern Africa) is pretty tough.  The figs I bought were local, and I’m sure any other fresh figs I buy this summer will be local, too.  What a great perk of living in California!

Figs have been around forever.  There’s evidence of figs existing as far back as 5,000 B.C., and fig leaves are the undergarments of choice in most versions of the story of Adam and Eve.  Here’s something else I didn’t know about figs:  A fig is actually an inverted flower, with the bloom on the inside, and when a fig is pollinated (sometimes they pollinate themselves, sometimes it involves fig wasps), the fig creates thousands of seeds, which basically become the flesh of the fruit.

Last summer, when I saw fresh figs for the first time at the farmers’ market, I immediately bought some.  I was hooked.  A good fresh fig is like nothing else on the planet – it’s sweet, delicate, and soft – like the texture of a perfectly ripe peach, with the taste that’s slightly like a berry.  When I get fresh figs, I usually just eat them raw.  Sometimes I like to cut them in half:

But most of the time I pick one up, and hold it upside down (so the stem is down):

And I take a bite:

Truth be told, this batch of figs wasn’t great.  They weren’t as sweet as they could be, and the insides could be a deeper shade of purpley-red.  That’s the other thing about figs – I’ve found, in my year of eating the occasional fresh fig (their season is short: mid-summer to early fall), that there’s a high chance of coming across bad figs, and there’s no signs to let you know ahead of time if a fig has gone bad.  I could eat a delicious fig, and then eat a second delicious fig from the same basket, and then the third fig, while looking nearly identical, will not be sweet at all, or, even worse, it’ll be a little bitter.  Oh, and fresh figs are expensive – 50 cents to a dollar per fig, even at farmers’ markets.  It makes me glad that fresh figs are so seasonal – it gives me something to look forward to, and something to enjoy without continually draining my wallet!

Before I wrap up this post, I wanna give a quick shout-out to a fellow blogger, Greta, who writes at Middle Aged Jock.  I’ve been reading Greta’s blog for a while now (she’s in the middle of a fun 10 Lists in 10 Days project), and she recently hosted a fantastic giveaway of swag from the recent FitBloggin’ conference in Baltimore.  Guess who has two thumbs and won?  This guy!  So a big thanks to Greta for shipping me all sorts of goodies (including fitness DVDs, a book, food samples and coupons, a food scale, and more) all the way across the country in a Girl Scout Cookies box (someone likes Tagalongs – just sayin’).

A lot of bloggers have contests – and I’m about to have another one, soon!  So keep reading – more details to come!  As for me, I’m gonna go eat my final two fresh figs.

Keep it up, David!

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13 Responses to Figs!

  1. i love your stuff. You are so amazing! Keep up the good work!!!

  2. Hi David, I met you last Saturday at Slimmons. I am one of Heidi and Alexa’s blog followers and now one of your too!

    My husband and I tried figs for the first time 4 years ago and fell in love. We roasted them, and they were sensational. Super sweet and addicting.

    I am loving your blog and look forward to reading more.
    — Patty

    • David says:

      Hi Patty! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment – so glad you found the blog, and even more glad you’re enjoying it! Will I see you more at Slimmons? -D

  3. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for talking about the figs. I’ve only had them in fig newtons and was wondering what fresh figs were like inside. I think I’ll try them soon.

  4. Mary says:

    David, First, Thank you for answering my question. Second, no wonder I had no idea what a fig was like being from Michigan! I really love stopping by here since Kenz first wrote about you… you are inspiring …setting the DVR for Ellen now :) Take care. Mary

  5. Emily says:

    WOW congratulations on the weight loss! I just came across your blog when I typed in figs gone bad. See I have fig “bushes” cause there are not really like a tree. But they produce a ton of yummy fresh figs. The other night we were to get a storm and if you pick fruit or veggies for that matter right before a storm they will be sweeter. (can’t recall why, something to do with the plant shooting sugar into the fruit, survival perhaps…dunno but it seems to be true) So my dear hubby went out to collect all the ripened ones and filled a bucket full. However today they were all moldy. Bummer, eh?
    Well I think I take a few minutes to peruse your blog. Hope you have some healthy recipes. :)

    • David says:

      Thanks, Emily, and I kinda jealous of your fig trees, er, bushes! It is a bummer that they all went bad so quickly… figs are a fickle fruit, huh? Welcome to Keep it up, David – glad you found me, and hope you like what you see! -David

  6. afshin says:

    Hi David,

    Hope you are doing well. I was wondering where you got the local figs? I live in down town los angeles and no lock!

    Thanks,
    Afshin

    • David says:

      I found them at the farmer’s market. Figs are in season now… I’ve seen them at Ralphs and Fresh N Easy in recent days. Good luck!

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