Late summer is the time to enjoy figs in Provence. I find that you either have a glut, if you own a fig tree, or none at all, if you don’t.
You can of course buy figs in the market, but it’s not like other fruit, peaches or apples, which are readily available over several months. Once figs are ripe they perish very quickly and start to spoil, either on the tree or after you’ve picked them. They will keep in a bowl on the table for about a day or two, before they split and spill their juice and the fruit flies start to attack and they have to be thrown away.
This is probably why you don’t see them for sale very much, and if you do, it tends to be people with smallholdings selling their own crop rather than a vegetable wholesaler. Figs are one of the most photogenic fruits (they’re not technically a fruit at all, but I’m not in the mood to be pedantic); the greenish purple skin makes for a dramatic contrast with the red fruit inside.
Figs are always a treat, but you can’t eat too many of them; they are rich and sweet and thier skin make your lips pucker in way that no other fruit does. My friend Nadine recently came to a lunch party we were having and brought some beautiful figs wrapped in a leaf. For me, not having my own fig tree, they were better than any box of chocolates and were much appreciated by everyone. When you have a tree with too many figs, they can feel like a burden as you have to use them up quickly before they s’abime, fall on the ground and create a sticky carpet under the tree that smells rotten and attracts the wasps. The Artist made some fig jam one year with figs from a friend’s garden. He peeled the figs and boiled them up, it was a long and labourious job and at the end of it, the jam’s consistency was more like chewing gum than jam. So now he just paints them instead.
I like to eat figs just as they are, maybe with some goat’s cheese, or some Parma ham.
How do you like to eat your figs and do you have a recipe you love? Please let me know in the comments below.