Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, yes I love a bad pun now let’s get on with it. Years of reading food blogs and media taught me that figs are glorious in season and that they go great with ricotta. But I can count the number of times I have had figs on my fingers (in all senses of that phrase – there must be a word for this kind of double meaning) and not particularly memorable ones at that.
I didn’t know how to choose figs either. The one time I made fig, ham and pine nut pasta – which sounds like it would be great, right – the figs were half-heartedly sweet, as though they’d spent a little too long inside a truck instead of the sun. It was one of those lunches that tasted like it was trapped at a crossroads of lost potential.
I don’t think I really understood a fig before Saturday.
These are black Mission figs, which I ate at Zuni Café. These dark violet-bruise Pac Man figs were split and smeared with ricotta, fine-wi ne balsamic and olive oil drizzled over. Toasted pine nuts, torn mint and Italian parsley scattered over. And that hint of salt on the creamy cheese and juicy fruit drove my tongue wiiiiild. Salt makes everything ten thousand times more seductive; my whole life feels like a search for salinity in strange places. Thinking about the figs reminded me of sweat I licked off someone’s collarbone after a hot day in the sun, that intense hit of salt and pleasure.
Sometimes you have to eat an excellent version of something before you understand what the whole point of it is. Then you can spend the rest of your life chasing the ghost of of that taste.