“It was one of those days so intensely alive and aromatic you could hear as well as smell the fig tree in the courtyard. Wasps hummed in the leaves as the fruit ripened and split; globes of warm dark purple were dropping, ripping open as they landed with sodden gasps.
The pulse that pumped out the sweet, heady scent was quickening as I bent down to pick the fallen figs, then pulled them apart to find insects were already drunk on their scarlet hearts.”from The Lantern
I defy anyone to look at a fallen fig like this: its heart shape and juice spilled like blood across the stone and not think Gothic thoughts... There's something very sensuous about figs, with their blatant sexual connotations, and the sweet, blowsy scent as they grow on the branch. Others lie on the grass under the tree, newly split open on impact and ripe for destruction by thirsty insects.
Those are the doomed windfalls, but here are some picked from the tree. I simply love their colours, the delicate darkness of the purple skin and pistachio greens.
And here's how we ate them. I prepared a bed of good fresh lettuce dressed with a vinaigrette of Dijon mustard, honey, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Then cut rounds of bread and topped with goat's cheese, and put on a tray in a fairly hot oven to bake with some slivers of jambon cru (Parma ham) and the halved figs, each spread with a little clear honey. Everything cooks together for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese looks done. Delicious!