Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall Figs

Before we talk recipes--let me just tell you that figs are a lot of fun. They really truly are the sexual deviants of the fruit world.
Figs are actually a bunch of flower seeds that are "born" on the inside of the fruit. They grow inwards and never get to bloom.

There are caprifigs and edible figs. The first are ghastly and not usually consumed by humans. They are basically there to trick female wasps. Ok--so wasps are what help pollinate figs. So the male wasp is born inside of the caprifig and never leaves. The female gets restless and heads out to find other suitable places to check out. The edible figs have no male pollen--so as the female wasp searches for a female flower--she can not find it. While searching, she leaves behind some pollen and thusly pollinates the edible fig plant. it's pretty kinky I guess if you are a botanist.

Figs are thought to be from Syria. The Greeks associated figs with fertility, and Cleopatra is said to haved loved their delicate fleshy meat. Figs are best when grown in the Mediterranean. The most local we can get is California typically due to weather and wasp needs.

Selecting figs:
-they should be ripe when picked
-touch them; they should give a little and definitely not be firm
-they aren't very pretty to look at so get over it

So--figs are in season. Let's get cooking!

Fig, Arugula, and Blue Cheese Salad
Sometimes I like to just build a salad on the plate when it is just one or two people eating. This is a perfect salad to do that with--plate your arugula and build on top.

1. Figs; sliced into quarters or 1/8ths
2. Baby Arugula
3. Pancetta; sauteed in a pan to be crispy
4. Blue or Gorgonzola Cheese; I used Carr Valley's Billy Blue--a goat's milk blue (more later)
5. Walnuts
6. Blood Orange Vinaigrette (juice of 1 blood orange--measure this and combine with 3x extra virgin olive oil)
7. Fresh Black Pepper

What to do:
1. Once everything is prepared as above, assemble on a plate
2. Drizzle with dressing or before adding cheese toss with dressing--then add cheese

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