by Jamie S.
Jamie Oliver calls his salad of fresh figs, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar "The Easiest, Sexiest Salad on Earth." And he's right. Oh, is he ever right.
But as far as I'm concerned, you can leave the prosciutto, cheese, basil, oil, and vinegar out of it and it's still the sexiest thing going. In fact, it'll be all I can do to stop myself from rolling around in it like Uncle Scrooge in his money bin.
Fresh figs are transcendent. If you've only ever had figs from a grocery store (or even worse, if you know of figs only from the inside of cookies) you're scratching your head right now. You'll just have to trust me on this. If you go to a local farm and get hold of, say, a few pounds of Italian honey figs--and if they're so ripe that they threaten to collapse at any moment--you will want to cancel all your appointments and lock your doors so you can be alone with them.
I went to a friend's farm this morning to pick up some Italian honey figs. The farm is a story in and of itself. It is glorious with sunshine and hospitality. I helped harvest a few Brandywine tomatoes and stood by while the farmer and his friend discussed the pressing matter of whether a certain watermelon was ready to pick.
The air outside smelled of Russian sage and basil. Newly dug irrigation ditches criscrossed the untamed, flower-dotted garden. Inside the house--an airy new home made special with warm-toned salvaged materials--every horizontal surface was covered with tomatoes in the final stage of ripening.
I never wanted to leave. There it was again, that special feeling of connectedness that comes with knowing the person who grows and harvests your food. In the residual coolness of the morning, a cup of coffee and a wander through the rows, with farm dogs and cats in tow, seemed to be the only thing that mattered.
But of course, here I am back in my office. Several of the figs didn't make it home; I ate them as I drove, and I actually heard myself giggle with joy when I took the first bite. There are still plenty left, so I am contemplating fig ice cream. And, I think, a salad.
Jamie S. lives in rural Georgia and writes 10 Signs Like This, a blog that's part gardening journal, part cookbook, part sustainable lifestyle, and part short attention span.