In nearly every Brazilian grocery store you’ll find plastic tubs filled with sparkling green fruits, like oversized sugar-studded raw emeralds, and more ominous looking tubs containing pale green liquid in which float large moss-colored teardrops. Figs. Preserved in sugar syrup, the figs are oddly gelatinous, mysteriously creamy and hinting at crunchy at the same time, their flesh infused with cloves and sweetness. Eating one is the taste experience of an afternoon at a French perfumer’s workshop.
For several weeks now, the grocery stores have been offering boxes of fresh figs, most so squashed and mushy, wrapped in plastic film and oozing through the soft cardboard, that I avoided even experimenting. How wrong I was! I finally broke down and bought a carton the other day because this recipe for a warm fig, pesto and mozzarella sandwich wouldn’t leave my food-obsessed brain. Figs were never part of my fruit vocabulary. In Bible stories, yes, where I had some vague idea of them being fuzzy and yellow, or maybe hard green things a bit like olives. But besides the preserved kind, I’d never eaten a real fig. (Well, maybe one fig newton when I was a kid, because the television commercials tricked me…)
I have now eaten half the carton: drenched with honey for breakfast, alone, sandwiched between leaves of fresh basil, mozzarella and olive oil on my cheap 9-grain bread...
I like them. I really like them. It's such an interesting taste combination, with the skin and the flesh and the teeny-tiny seeds. I can't wait to do some more experiments. Send recipes, dear readers, please!