The eyes feast before the stomach has the chance, but what then when the eyes are fooled into discontent? They say "adventurous" eaters will take the dives; sling back an oyster, dare to attempt blood sausage and scorpion legs--but food does not have to take on the image of an epic crusade of danger and adrenalin (leave that to the little bald man on the Travel Channel) there is another way to train the eyes, it is called the brain. Think for just a moment before putting (or not putting) something in your mouth. Try to reason out why there is hesitation. If, in the end, it comes to appearance and only appearance, then it is undoubtedly something you need to sample. I came to this sad conclusion only yesterday with the underestimated, undervalued, and overlooked dried fig. When offered a figue sèche by a French girl in the kitchen last night I hesitated, but took one not wanting to offend. Praise and good fortune be bestowed upon that girl from that moment on. Dried figs are candy in disguise of a begger's rat pill. Their appearance resembles the textbook case of an ugly duckling, they are shriveled and exude an air of desiccation and storage rivaled only by a grandmothers faux fur coat. The truth, my darlings, is there is nothing more perfectly sweet, chewy, crunchy, and satisfying as a dried fig.
What to do with a dried fig. Besides eating a whole pack (not difficult) I thought of baking a tribute to my new candy, a baked good only the Salty Cod would and could carry. I thought of biscotti, the ever ready confection able to adapt to any added ingredient, and decided to proceed to the super marche to finally, after being in this country for two weeks, build my baking arsenal. On y va to carrefour, the "fred meyers" of France--alors, this American's heaven. Flour, sugar, butter, anise seed, figs, baking pans, whisk, baking soda (though allusive for nearly a half hour) carrefour has it all. While choosing a loaf pan, I noticed the madeleine pan, the shell shaped cake dish I have pined after for months. I am in france, I reasoned, I will make madeleines, fig madeleines.
Je suis prete. The espresso is made, the batter mixed, the pan set and filled, now to the oven. What oven. This foyer is sans oven, though there is an electric toaster oven large enough for a small pan. Needless to say Celsius is different from Fahrenheit, and toaster ovens are a wee bit different from conventional ovens. It will take, I fear, more than this attempt to work the oven like a pro and bend it to my every will. It won the battle this time and murdered my madeleines and instead producing a flat loaf resembling french toast sticks when cut. Though the other filles of the foyer consumed every last piece, I am determined to make them appear in the form of madeleines. If, however, a flat fig cake is desired by you my reader, then I wholeheartedly implore you to attempt such a recipe in ode to the pretty little treat, the dried fig.
- 4 chopped medium sized dried figs
- 130 grams flour
- 130 grams sugar
- 130 grams melted butter
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp anise seed
- 2 eggs
Eating a box of dried figs may be just as if not more enjoyable than a cake of their name. Suffice to say dried figs are now nestled among my edible loves, they will be available by the parcel at the Salty Cod, and hopefully so too will fig madeleines.