Thanks to David & Eli and their incredible loft in Barcelona, last week I lost myself in La Boqueria, and I was enwreathed by stalls and stalls of black and green figs. I was reminded of my experience in La Alpujarras, a mountain region in the south of Spain, specifically Granada, where I volunteered on an organic fig and almond farm. More correctly stated, this "farm" was a golden hillside sprinkled with mature fig trees, and in the early mist of those September mornings, I found myself biting into perfectly shaped, sweet, ripe, dark-fruit centered figs. A memory I never want to lose, and a saved place on my tastebuds to always recover that piece of nostalgia.
The good news for you, my loving audience, is that figs are now in season, and sweeter than ever. Thanks to thousands of years of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean history, nowadays you can find figs relatively close to home. For example, the mission fig, brought to California by the Spanish Franciscan missionaries. The officially calendar of harvest in the Northern Hemisphere is June to November, but too early or too late and the prime moment is lost - September happens to be my favorite month to properly enjoy the taste and health benefits of figs, which offer some of the highest sources of fiber and calcium.
As our world is ever changing and importation and exportation take place mostly behind our backs and without our consent, picking what's fresh and in it's prime season or environment isn't as simple as it once was. I remember from my childhood white corn in the summer months -which we always paired with crabs. What could be more clear than buying sweet fresh corn from the vendor on the side of the road, who happens to be in front of a corn field?!?
Since city life isn't that clear, nor simple, here is a helpful tool for choosing the best seasonal fruits. Pick the state of residence (sorry this is for my US fans), and the time of year, and voilà.
I also like this chart, from the official site of the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in San Francisco, that lists a wide variety of more unusual fruits like cherimoyas and yuzu. The CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agricultue) site in general is worth a couple hours of reading.