A shameful admission: Although figs have been in season since June, I hadn't tasted one until today. At least not a fig in anything other than the powdery, slightly-cardboard-tasting Fig Newton variety.
It was time to remedy this.
Since it's two days before ferragosto officially begins, most of the food vendors near me, including my favorite little fruit stand, are closed. So when I opened my fridge to see its fairly-bare shelves, I knew I was headed to my tiny neighborhood market that makes up for in variety what it boasts in opening times and friendliness. It helps that it's right across the street.
Once there, as usual, I realized I wanted not just bread, but a big bottle of water. Oh, and maybe some fruit. I picked out plums. Then I saw the figs. Okay, those too.
The owner -- who recognizes me by now and seems pretty thrilled to have an American living so nearby -- packed them up for me, extolling their glories as he wrapped them in paper. "Just wash them off and you can eat them just like this," he told me in Italian. "Very nice snack. Very delicious. You sure you don't want more? Positive?"
Back home, I dutifully washed one of the (pretty ripe-looking) figs, dried it off, and took a bite.
Yum. Funky texture, delicate taste, no annoying pits or seeds. Way better than a Fig Newton. (Although I think that if Fig Newton brought this old-school mascot back, it might give the boring, unbranded fresh fig a run for its money. I mean, how can you not love a cartoon that greets you with "Hi, I'm Big Fig!"?)
I'm now plotting the rest of my afternoon around when I can have a second, and third, one of these snack-sized fruits.
(For the record: Yes, I do know what "fig" is an euphemism for. That joke is 500 years old. Literally. And no, I haven't suddenly discovered something about myself here in Italy. I'm talking about the honest-to-god fruit version. Really).