FIGS

The world’s oldest known fig tree is said to be growing in a garden in Sicily.

Fresh or dried, figs complement both sweet and savory dishes. Figs come in three main varieties — white, black, and red– with color ranging from pale green to dark gold, golden brown, or deep purple, though skin color hardly makes a difference in taste. Ripe figs are not juicy in the conventional sense, nor do they have a strong flavor. Figs should be soft to the touch with a pleasant aroma. They spoil quickly and bruise easily, which explains why only 10% of the crop are shipped fresh while the remaining are dried, canned or jarred. To store fresh figs, place them in a paper bag or shallow bowl lined with a paper towel. Come summertime, we like to pair sweet figs with slices of Parma’s best pork product, culatello.