The first fresh figs have ripened on our tree in the front yard, earlier than they did last year. Maybe it’s the dry weather, maybe it’s that our tree is four years old now and beginning to mature.
Figs are something I know I should love more than I really do. They are beautiful, lush, even sensual — and very sweet. But there’s the rub: I am not a fan of anything overly sweet, and figs lack any sort of acidity to balance out their sweetness. In this they are like mulberries.
Still, wrapping my fresh Mission figs in translucent sheets of prosciutto or jamon serrano and grilling them briefly over hardwoods is one of my summer’s great joys. Salty, meaty ham and the kiss of smoke add what figs lack. But even a squeeze of lemon helps a lot.
Our tree will have more figs than we can eat fresh this year, something I have waited for since we moved here and planted it in the summer of 2004. This means there will soon be cookie sheets loaded with figs sitting out in our 100-degree days, drying for the fall and winter. Dried figs I use in Moroccan tagines or game stews.
I also plan toÂ make many batches of sykomaitha, the dried Greek fig cakes I made for our Big Fat Greek Party. But still, I suspect I am neglecting any number of figgy delights I know nothing about.
I do know several Greeks read these pages. Got any ideas for me? How about the Italians? Ilva? Maryann? West Coast foragers know that fig trees grow wild all over the place here. How about you? Anyone else got any great ideas for fresh figs? I am all ears.