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The Sensualists' Superfood

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Figs are so misunderstood. Since we tend to stick with what we know, we often skip over the fig and go for bananas, apples or oranges because figs seem so, well, foreign.

To me, a ripe fig is as alluring and seductive as a woman in her pleasure: sweet, yielding, sensual, mysterious and a gift to all she encounters. The fig was Cleopatra’s favorite fruit and also highly prized by the Sumerians, Greeks and Romans, not to mention the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha, who sat under the Bodhi Tree (a species of fig) to gain enlightenment.

Figs are truly the original superfood. I say screw the $3 bottle of vitamin water or the $15 a pound goji berries and get yourself some figs – they taste so much better.

While I encourage eating for pleasure and satisfaction first, here are some hard facts on figs that might serve as your tipping point to trying them:

•Figs contain very high levels of B6 (seratonin boosting and water retention-helping), calcium (good for bone density) and potassium (stress soother, energy & sugar metabolizing).

They contain more soluble fiber than any other fruit – these suckers will keep you regular and help control your blood sugar.

Fresh figs are in season through the fall and it’s the perfect time to give them a whirl. The two we encounter most are the dark purple ones, which are Mission figs and the pale green ones, which are Calimyrna. They should feel heavy for their size and have a slight give to the touch. If ripe, they'll last three days (MAX) in the fridge. If left on the counter, they'll get wrinkly and concentrated in sugar, which isn't a bad thing at all.

Ways To Eat Fresh Figs

At my fave brunch spot in Chicago – The Publican, they serve a plate of fresh ricotta with sliced figs and toasted hazelnuts drizzled with chestnut honey. Freaking phenomenal. You can also do Greek yogurt, figs, walnuts and honey.

Snicky Snack
Cut open the top of a fig and stuff with a touch of gorgonzola cheese and a walnut. Meat eaters, take it a step further and wrap with prosciutto. Drizzle with balsamic.

Lunch & Dinner

Make a salad or a pizza with a mix of one or more of the following ingredients that go great with figs:

arugula, red leaf lettuce, walnuts, pine nuts, sheep feta, Manchego, goat cheese, melon, prosciutto, bacon, mint, rosemary, red onions, caramelized onions, walnut oil, extra virgin olive oil, real, aged, balsamic vinegar

There's also a recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbookby Judy Rodgers, that I have yet to make but will be soon: Chicken Braised with Figs, Honey & Vinegar. The recipe was published in the New York Times a few years back and it looks like an easy and delicious one pot meal.

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