cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Figs & Chocolate

Hello codets. Figs can be a difficult business. I think they are very mysterious. I have no memories of figs as a child outside of the fig newton cookie. I don't think i had ever seen a whole, fresh fig until I moved to France. Figs are somewhat exotic to Americans, largely because they are native to the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, which is why they were so prevalent in France. I remember mentioning how much i adored dried figs in a post right here on the Salty Cod. If you decide to meander into the past please take note of the horrifying photos, everyone starts somewhere. The first time i tasted a real, fresh fig was here in Brazil. I thought it was very bitter. Looking back it was probably due to the fact that it was green and hard rather than a soft shade of bruise purple. Figs must be eaten ripe, even if you are going to cook them. A ripe fig is perfectly beautiful. 

source: Wikimedia Commons
Almost anything can grow in Brazil. Anything aside from russet potatoes, cranberries and holly bushes. Figs, though not native, thrive here. Even so, you don't see them around much. If you can't juice it, it's not very popular. I have never seen a snack bar on the streets of Sao Paulo selling fig juice. It is a more acquired taste, and similar to the filling of a newton cookie, i've seen jars of compote for sale. Figs have acquired a somewhat snobby connotation, --you know, the Master Chef quick challenge of douse a fig in honey and serve it ripe with a shaving of pancetta reputation.

There is a city not far from the old Sao Paulo countryside town where i used to live called Valinhos, where every year they hold a fig festival. Sadly I never attended, but the obscurity of making a festival around a single edible item hits close to my heart, as that is undoubtedly a very American pastime. For example, the lentil festival in Pullman. Someday i will make it to the festival. 

A few weeks ago we had chocolate covered fruit on the menu for a party we catered. Obviously, i had strawberries in mind. Unfortunately, when i arrived at the grocery store the strawberries, which were on sale the week before, had evaporated. What was in their place? Figs. Figs for pennies. The cheapest fruit is always the fruit that is in season. So, not sure if it would be a big hit or not, i grabbed a few boxes and decided to give it a go. After dipping them in chocolate and allowing them to dry, i was in awe at how beautiful they looked. Almost majestic. Even if no one eats these, i had thought, they will make a beautiful presentation on the dessert bar. And they did. During the party i was approached by an older gentleman who thanked me for reviving figs, as he put it, his favorite fruit that is severely underrepresented in everything. He proceeded to eat half of the display. If you've never had a fresh fig dipped in chocolate before, you are severely missing out.

So naturally this week i picked up another box of figs, for myself. Of course i dipped them in chocolate. How else could i share them with you then?

When dipping figs in chocolate, make sure the fig is completely dried after washing. Only use ripe, slightly squishy figs that have a deep purple tint. Allow the chocolate to dry completely, in or out of the fridge so that they obtain a hard crunch.


HWIT BLOGG said...

What a lovely blog you have and lovely pictures! Figue and nice...
Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Delicious love figs and the elegant way you did the photography. YUMMY.