Thursday 13 January 2011

The Scent of Figs

The summer we arrived on our Luberon hillside, I would sit reading in the courtyard under the trees. As hot still days went by, a luscious scent began to creep and curl into my consciousness. It was a while before I realised that these sweet musky breaths were coming from the fig canopy above my head.

The perfume of figs ripening in the sun is intoxicating. Gradually I'd stop turning the pages of my book and, barely awake under the tree, let the fragrance work its magic. There were notes of grilled plums with sugar, a hint of coconut and balsam. A Levantine touch, too, of spices from the souk, and rich chocolate, dark and decadent.

Plenty of perfume houses have drawn on this blousy sense of indulgence that sings to the frankly rather greedy among us. The one I like best because it comes closest to my memory of those drowsy scented afternoons, is Fico di Amalfi from Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo range.

But I'm determined to hunt down Diptyque’s Philosykos, which promises an appealing moss-earthy wood, with green yet creamy-sweet fig. And there’s also Figue Amère from Miller Harris with a hint of violet among the coconut and musk.

This photo of figs on a leaf was taken in November last year, the last few survivors of a late harvest. We returned to England in September and missed the waspy, bursting stage I wrote about earlier here. Last year all the fruit was weeks behind schedule because the winter was harsh followed by an unusually cool spring. So though we didn’t manage to eat many of them, the figs stayed on the branches until the end of August, sending out pulses of natural perfume.


Anonymous said...

I love figs and their heady scent. No doubt they do better in Provence than they do over here, but in the right spot we get a good crop.

I like the little tasters from The Lantern.

la fourchette said...

Oh! You've captured the essence of the fig season wonderfully here. The season's last figs chez moi were enjoyed in a salad of "bursting" figs, soft mounds of chevre and ribbons of prosciutto drizzled with a dressing composed of lemon juice, olive oil and a touch of honey then topped with chiffonade of fresh basil. And your image - in both words and pictures - made me long for fig season again!

(Of course, I'll take 'em any way - straight from the tree or on the way home from the marché!)

And Deborah, thank you for your lovely comments.

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