Simmered figs, Salento-style
It’s an odd fact but the longer I remain a bachelor, the more I cook like a grandmother. Yes, strange, I know.
Take this dish, for example, the sort of dolce that you can whip when you have almost nothing in the house, which happens more than I’d care to admit.
Like today, for example. Angela asked, What do you have that’s sweet. The jar of dried figs seem to all but holler at me.
As you travel through the Salento you’ll really notice only two kinds of trees. Olive trees, of which we have 4 million. And virtually every other tree you’ll see is a fig tree. No one buys figs here. During the season, you can’t give them away fast enough. Not that that stops us from trying, And red wine, everyone has some of that around: this bottle I made myself last September (from the negroamaro grape).
The ‘recipe’ couldn’t be easier. Figs, red wine, some sugar, a few bay leaves, a lemon peel, some fennel seeds. Simmer until soft. The pectin in the figs thickens the sauce, making it as sticky-sweet as the first time you were in love.
Angela ignores her spoon as they begin to cool. ‘My grandmother used to make these exactly the same way’, she says.
She nibbles in silence while it occurs to me that there really isn’t any discreet way of asking Angela if her grandmother happened to be a bachelor as well.
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