What the fig?

A neighbor invited me to a potluck dinner. I arrive, armed with a veggie stir fry and curious what my new neighbors like to eat. The hostess explains that most of the produce at this evening’s fete comes from a nearby organic farm. I glance down the long folding table: plates of styled fruits and vegetables fresh off the vine magazine ready. The farmers only take cash and plenty of it, so the neighbor says.

Black mission figs at the height of the season look like jewels plucked from a czar's crown.

So when the hostess produces a quart of black mission figs that look like jewels plucked from a czar’s crown, I swoon toward the desert table. This is the height of fig season, and these beauties are not to be missed.

I choose a gorgeous specimen, jeweled black and perfectly plump. I dangle it by the stem in front of my nose, anticipating aromas of sweet earthiness. Instead, I detect onion. My sniffer kicks into high gear, and I sniff all over its baby-soft skin to be sure. Yes, onion. Lots of pungent raw onion. Curses.

I pick up carefully another fig by stem, in case my hands carry the oniony odor, and inhale. More onion! Whoever handled these figs stored them next to the greenest of green onions and thought nothing of it, just some food sitting in a bag.

I slump off to the side and pet a small yellow dog hosing underfoot for dropped items. From the looks of his tubby midsection, he’s had a long and successful career as party clean up crew.

The dog’s eat-anything palate inspires an idea. The cooler weather has put me in the mood for root vegetables in a hearty gravy. I also have some pastured lamb in the freezer that I’ve been wondering how to use. These oniony figs are the perfect secret ingredient to pull the veggies and lamb together in a delicious stew. I saunter over to the utensil end of the table and wrap my plate of former discards in a napkin to carry home.


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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Genevive Bjorn, Genevive Bjorn. Genevive Bjorn said: What the fig?: A neighbor invited me to a #potluck dinner. I arrive, armed with a veggie stir… http://goo.gl/fb/qwrJu […]

  2. […] some stew. So tonight I did just that and made a stew of lamb with fennel, root veggies and the oniony figs from last week. My kitchen smells as cozy as a campfire. Smells like stew […]