The Figs story
There is an amazing Mediterranean shop in Surrey I go to pretty much weekly. It is where I get my fix of “everything” I miss from back home… they pretty much stock it all! From Bulgarian feta and real, proper yoghurt to dips, preserves and even freshly made on the premises bread and sweets. The on-site Butcher isn’t one to miss too, meat is fresh and locally sourced, plus there’s always a tray full of chicken gizzards and hearts waiting for me
The fruit and veg section is amazing though. You can find seasonal fruit from all over the Med, Balkans and Northern Africa. Cheap as chips as well! Where else would you buy 3 massive, ripe, gorgeous figs for a mere pound!…
I adore figs. We have a very old fig tree in my gran’s garden that I am very fond of. It’s fruits are rather small but amazingly aromatic and sweet. I remember walking impatiently under it every summer as a child, squeezing the still green figs to check if they are ready to eat. Then getting the first ripe one? Unbelievable! Oh, my…what a treat!
The tree is a bit of a joker. Likes playing games, I think! It ripens it’s fruit very slow to start with – the occasional ready to devour fig daily (and always right at the very top branch! Now, go get it without a ladder in sight..), Then a handful….Then kaboooom! One morning ALL the figs are deep purple and ready! Running towards the heavy branches, I catch myself wishing for two mouths and at least five stomachs, so I can eat and eat…and eat……and eat………..at EAT!
The next day, still burping figs, I don’t even go near the tree. Quiet frankly, (and this happens every single year, without fail) I strongly feel like I never want to see a fig in my life again….but no such luck! They are everywhere you look! A big bowl on the table, a bucketful in the kitchen, a blanket of fallen, overripe ones all over the garden…..It’s the FIG attack!
My gran is starting to prepare the jars for the inevitable preserve party at that point (that’s the one with all the aunties turning up, clacking like chickens, stirring jam in massive pots for a whoooole day) The jam is absolutely lovely though. My gran has a trade mark, she doesn’t cut the figs, they go in the pot and cook whole. The result is something sensational – sticky sweet and glossy fruit, swimming in honey-like syrup and as you bite through one – juice bursts from the tender centre, filling the mouth, brains exploding with flavour.
She even puts walnut kernels in some of the jars as a treat. Those are my favourite and I have been known for sneaking in the cellar, not long after the jars are put away, collecting them all and hiding them so no one else but me eats them!
Holding the 3 figs, I have a big smile on my face, thinking: isn’t it amazing how memories flood back at the sight of something so simple as a piece of fruit..
I wan’t to “feel at home” for longer. I won’t just eat them. I’m gonna cook them . 3 figs. 3 different dishes. Make them last and keep on giving!
Thinking of cooking figs makes me think of cheese…I’d normally go for goat’s cheese and make a tart but really wan’t to try something different. Something special. Also something that can go “around” a bit as I have 3 people coming over for a bit-a-wine on the balcony this afternoon..I know! Camembert! That will be lovely, baked with the figs, with some crusty granary bread for dipping in. Yum…
I am slicing my first in 6 and gonna make some holes with my index finger right into the cheese, which I have laid in a make-shift bed of baking paper, twisted on four sides to resemble a nest. A fig slice goes in knee deep in each hole
The “parcel” goes in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Baking it slowly on lower temp will allow the figs to cook through and release their juices, which in turn will seep into the cheese and flavour it from within. Lovely…