It's tempting to wax eloquent on figs, with their fabled history, ancient origins and jewel-like interiors. But the first time we tried a fresh fig, we were disappointed. It was watery and rather bland. So we cooked the rest of that pint into rich jam, which is still how we like them best.
Chances are though that the disappointing fig was an early-season version, known for being rather weak. Second season figs, like the ones flooding California markets right now, are richer and sweeter - better for eating raw. We had a plate of figs with a triple-cream cheese and crackers a couple weekends ago, and it was sublime. What's your favorite way to eat figs? Some of ours below...
A basic homemade fig jam is marvelous - just cook with rum, sugar, and lemon peel. Sometimes we add toasted sesame seeds - you can see our basic recipe at Epicurious: Fig-Sesame Jam.
We're also drawn to combining sweet figs with savory ingredients, like in Heidi's Sage, Walnut and Dried Fig Stuffing. This Cream Cheese, Dried Fig, and Walnut Spread with Smoked Salmon looks heavenly too.
You can also just drizzle them with a little honey and roast, then serve on top of panna cotta, custard, or ice cream. Their sweet, slightly smoky flavor always tastes like early fall to us. What do you do with your figs?