Anticipation is the best sauce, or so we're told. I keep repeating this to myself as I begin my yearly Spring ritual of craving things that aren't quite here yet, an activity which is decidedly outside of my usual appreciate-what's-right-here-right-now mode. This daydreaming is taking place in many areas of my life, but it seems to be coalescing around food today. Yes, it's spring and yes, the asparagus is arriving and pea tendrils, too. Favas! Fiddleheads! Nettles! Amazing, fleeting, delicious stuff.
Then why can't I stop thinking about figs?
I blame it on spring fever. And Nigel Slater.
I spent the morning in bed with a big beautiful cookbook from the British cookbook author Nigel Slater. (It was so tempting to rewrite that sentence to begin with 'I spent most the morning in bed with Nigel Slater...') The cookbook is called Ripe and it's a companion to Tender, his book about gardening and vegetables, only Ripe is all about fruit, with hundreds and hundreds of pages devoted to apricots and figs and plums. After spending the better part of this morning lazily browsing it's lush pages, I found myself falling into a kind of droopy-eyed slumber, with visions of plum cakes and apricot jams flirting about in my head.
Outside my window and down the hill, the markets are filling up with bright green tendrils and little lumpy pods and the flowers that will one day become the fruit I am craving right now. In a month or so, the stalls will be tumbling over with strawberries and rhubarb (it's actually starting already) and cherries, too. Apricots, sweet delicious sexy apricots, aren't far behind and then of course the first of the summer figs will be here. Soon, very soon and yet it seems like forever.
It's an interesting dilemma to want what's not readily available, to feel ready for something that hasn't quite happened yet. It's tempting to push into it a little, to get what I want when I want it. But the lessons of spring, with its succulence and promise, remind me to wait just a little longer. The moment is tender, not yet ripe. But almost.
(Images: Dana Velden)