As a kid the only the only figs I was acquainted with were the fig newton variety and even those I wasn't too crazy about, but after visiting Italy and then buying a home there I came to appreciate a FIG. The first ones I was introduced to were from my neighbor. She lived directly across the cobblestone road from me and when we would come home at night she would be smoking on the stoop. She brought my wife and I a plate of ripe figs and these figs were ready to burst. Their skins were peeling and the seeds were just about bubbling out. I took one bite and experienced that sensation that reminded me of my first beer. You want to really like it because you know it's cool, but the taste is a little too much. Figs were like that for me. I wanted to be a FIG eater because I knew all Italian loved figs and being an Italian WANNABE according to my children it was mandatory that I enjoy figs. I ate on and I eat on and each fig gets better and better.
My second real encounter with a fig or rather a bunch of figs came in the summer of 2006. I was with Franco( the husband of Paola) who I do our cooking school with. He told me to grab a basket and come along we needed to get some figs off the tree before they expired. We hopped in his jeep and drove over the rough terrain of his olive orchard to a spot where there were three giant FIG trees. A ladder was propped up against one of the trees, so I climbed to the top and peered across the land. In the very short distance I could see my village of Casperia.
All around me were figs. I felt like I was in a bee hive being suffocated by swarming bees. These figs didn't bite but they definitely were swarming and I started to pick and eat, pick and eat and by the time I got down from the ladder I felt intoxicated just like the time I drank my first few beers, but this time I was intoxicated with figs and with everything Italian.
My favorite thing is dried figs. I make them myself and I put them on ice cream or I eat them with blue cheese. I put them in salads. I like them on top of oatmeal in the morning.
10 figs quartered
Turn on the oven to about 175 degrees. Quarter the figs and line a cookie sheet pan with foil. Spray the foil with non-stick spray and lay the figs on the pan. Place in the oven for about 8 hours until they are dried.