Before moving to Italy I didn’t even know you could eat fresh figs. Not that I had given it much thought. When I was growing up, figs in Wisconsin were mainly an ingredient in Fig Newton cookies. At Christmas dried figs would show up and were avoided with the dried prunes and dates. But I had never seen them fresh.
My first contact with fresh figs was when I was going through my master’s degree in business communications at the Università di Venezia. I was one of the tallest in my class and few of my classmates asked me to pick them a few out of reach figs from the tree giving shade to the entrance to our classroom. I looked above me and plucked a few of the little green, soft bulbs above my head. They were so ripe that some were showing purple shading similar to overripe chives. After picking a few for those around me I tore one open for myself and bit in. The seeds and the syrupy sweet fruit inside was a shock, but not enough to stop me from picking them.
When I moved to Italy almost twenty years ago prosciutto e melone, slices of cold fresh cantaloupe and dried Parma ham, was becoming well known among people who loved Italy and Italian food in the US. The other variation on the theme is prosciutto e fichi, , fresh figs laying over a bed of prosciutto.
The only problem is finding fresh figs. Silvia’s cousin Biancamaria arrived last night with a wooden case of them the lush hills around Chieti. I’m looking forward to biting into them again this evening.
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