A (Fig) Tree Grows in Queens
A 100-year-old fig tree blooms in my backyard. Embarrassingly, before moving into my Queens garden apartment, I had never eaten a fig outside of the ubiquitous Newton. And now, from mid-August to early October, at least one meal a day contains that plump purple fruit. I spend the weeks leading up to their arrival surfing the internet for new fig recipes, and let me tell you, the results make my stomach growl in anticipation. A lot of them require cheese, pastry, nuts and honey, so if my new back-to-school clothes don’t fit in September, we’ll all know who’s to blame.
First full bowl of the season. Don’t hate. Congratulate.
It isn’t often that a city dweller gets to pluck fresh fruit from a tree in their backyard, and every time I do it, I feel like a rosy-cheeked country girl swinging a wicker basket with a gingham lining. Then I walk out the front door and see a guy rummaging my garbage for empty beer cans and remember that I still live in Queens.
It’s difficult to take my figs seriously when they look like the man-eating plants from Little Shop of Horrors. I can’t help imagining that they’re about to break into an uptempo rendition of “Feed Me, Seymour”.
“Feed me Seymour, feed me all night long…Feed me Seymour, so I can grow up big and stroooong…”
But seriously, slicing them into quarters allows one to fill the figs with some inordinately delectable ingredients like ricotta and goat cheese. Of course, you could stuff a tire with ricotta or goat cheese and I’d like it.
You can eat them right then and there, but I chose to roast them briefly, then drizzle with a bit of honey and a wee scattering of freshly ground black pepper. It was the right thing to do.
I served them alongside a loaf of crusty bread and a few ribbons of salty prosciutto, my transition from harried New Yorker to rosy-cheeked European farm girl now complete. Mangia!