Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Early Figs

     Yesterday morning we went on an herb walk with some of our painters interested in the "wild" side of Chianti. We started our exploration at 8 am as the sun was just beginning to gently wipe the dew from the landscape. We hiked from San Fedele up and around an ancient Celtic Circle through vineyards, eyes wide searching for nature's hidden treasures. Along the way we discovered a variety of different mint, wild fennel, wild thyme and spittlebugs.
Wild Thyme
As we came upon a fig tree I remem- bered one day a few years ago in Morolo, just outside of my parents house, my father went up to the fig tree and snapped a green, less than half ripe, fig from the tree. I was shocked as he took a bite from it, as if it were an apple. My lips puckered as he finished it off and I asked him how he could eat a crunchy fig that must have made his teeth feel fuzzy.  He said "when you're hungry it's amazing what you will eat".  He went on to reminisce about growing up during the war and the things they would forage for to keep their, ever present, hunger pangs at bay. He said his mother would cook young green figs with a little olive oil and garlic. He would be so hungry he couldn’t wait until they were ready so he would snatch one from the tree and eat it in anticipation. 
Green Young Figs
I was very curious about what fried green figs would taste like so I asked my mother to cook a few that evening. I was so surprised at how savory they were, more like a vegetable than a fruit. I would never have guessed these were the same figs that in a few weeks would be plump, sweet, juicy and luscious bundles, weighing heavy on the tree.

Ripe Figs
So,  I asked our herb walkers to help me pick the young green figs and promised to serve them a special, old family recipe at dinner.
This evening, alongside the vegetable frittata, I gave everyone a taste of my fathers favorite childhood delicacy, sautéed figs…..I think my grandmother would be very proud.
Vegetable Frittata with a side of Fried Green Figs

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