Let’s Eat — A Writer’s Guide to Cooking

Do you like figs? I love them. I grew up with them. For me, figs and fig trees have great meaning. Just the other morning, in fact, I wrote this haiku while gazing out my mother’s kitchen window:

          While our dishes dry
          on the counter, a silent
          fig tree watches me.

On that particular tree, however, owing to its heavily shaded location and possibly its profound loneliness, the figs never ripen. They wither and fall before they’re fully formed. Perhaps they’re waiting for a visit from some sort of pollenizing insect, such as a tiny fig wasp.

          Imagine insects
          preaching joy from fig to fig,
          then proudly dying.

Anyway. During what promised to be another figless season, we were rescued by a Greek friend of my wife recently, who had such a large second crop of black figs on her backyard tree that every few days she brought us another container of them — shoe boxes, metal cookie canisters, plastic tubs. It was fine at first. We ate figs to our heart’s content. Soon, however, we fell behind. A person can eat only so many figs in a day. And they kept coming. And then the rainy weather arrived, and the figs’ shelf life was noticeably diminished. We even lost a few — held tiny fig funerals for them in our backyard, then consigned them to eternal rest in the soil. Finally, being a responsible, concerned adult, I suggested to my wife that we try cooking the figs down into an unofficial jam. Here’s what we did:

We cut the unpeeled figs into fairly small pieces into one of our large soup pans. We added a little water, about enough to cover them halfway. Then we simmered the figs for I don’t know how long — at least a couple of hours — until they were broken down and the remaining water was a thick, figgy juice. At this point, we added the juice of half a small, juicy lemon and quite a bit of sugar. I don’t know how much sugar we used. I kept adding until it smelled right — sweet, but not too sweet. We stirred it all together and let the mixture simmer for another hour. After it had cooled, we put the pleasantly aromatic, thickened mass into a plastic tub and then into the refrigerator. We tasted it the next day when it was completely cold — and, wouldn’t you know, it was just like the fig jam I grew up with on the farm. It won’t last as long as official jam, of course, but it doesn’t have to. In this form, it will last long enough. About an hour ago, I smeared some peanut butter onto a slice of raisin bread, and then loaded it with our impromptu fig jam. Breakfast fit for a king.

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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