The fragrant freshness of the night rose ever stronger and sweeter from the garden; the sounds and the silence grew more solemn; star after star began to twinkle overhead. I looked at him, and suddenly my heart grew light; it seemed that the cause of my suffering had been removed like an aching nerve. Suddenly I realized clearly and calmly that the past feeling, like the past time itself, was gone beyond recall, and that it would be not only impossible but painful and uncomfortable to bring it back. And after all, was that time so good which seemed to me so happy? and it was all so long, long ago!
-Leo Tolstoy (Family Happiness)

As I’m sure you perspicacious, food-loving readers guessed, last week was a little bleak. Then again, it’s not as if I was trying to be all that subtle about it. But it’s amazing what a little time and a little perspective can do for you. I barely touched a book this past weekend (perhaps a fairly nonchalant stance for somebody who had been told to step it up, but, when crushed, distance is crucial)! Instead, I cooked, I ate, I walked and took pictures (my adventures in fortuitously Chocolate Festival-ing will be revealed in the next post). And, best of all, there were figs.

While I love figs, I feel that they’re kind of like the “shooting stars” of fruit (save for the fact that figs aren’t a fruit; did you know that? According to a search on the good old interwebs, they’re a false fruit. It’s the seeds on the inside that constitute the real fruit). You’ve got to seize the moment when they’re ripe and available; otherwise, you’ll miss it. And, at the market this Saturday, seize I did. Inspired my The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook I had bought for myself (though I didn’t need it–I need another cookbook like I need a hole in my head–it was a Bargain Book. And once I looked inside, I realized that you don’t turn down such bargains. It’s full of healthy and delicious looking recipes. Plus, whenever I have a moment of hypochondria, I always go to the Mayo Clinic website; I felt it was best to support my “doctors.”), I had a little something in mind for dessert: figs stuffed with mascarpone cheese. If that doesn’t already sound like the simplest, happiest dessert you could dream of, you sprinkle nutmeg and walnuts on top…and heavy-handedly drizzle the whole thing with honey.

After eating these for dessert on Saturday night, the Greek passed his qualifying exam on Monday and is now officially Ph.D. Candidate (even better, he’s on vacation in his homeland, which he well and truly deserves; I’m simply sorry that I couldn’t hide in his suitcase and go too)! And I, after a breakfast of figs, walnuts and yogurt, decided to buy new notebooks (and pretty ones) for this new stage of my dissertation research. I’ve been reading and thinking a lot. Frankly, I think the figs have something to do with it. And since I still have a few more in the fridge, I’m going to recreate the magic and hope that the figs will do all the work…Even if they don’t, I’m confident that I’ve at least found a new comfort food. And, as experience has taught me, the world could always do with a little more comfort.

Fresh Figs with Walnuts and Mascarpone

Ever so slightly adapted from The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook 
Serves 3-4

A handful of chopped walnuts
8 ripe figs
1 1/2 Tbsp. mascarpone cheese
Sprinkling of ground nutmeg
Drizzle of clover honey

-Slice the stems off the figs.
-Cut an X in the top of each fig, cutting down into the fruit about 1 inch. Carefully squeeze each fig from the bottom to open it slightly.
-Spoon about 1/2 tsp. mascarpone into the opening of each fig and sprinkle with nutmeg.
-To serve, divide the figs among plates. Sprinkle with walnuts, dividing evenly.
-Drizzle each plate with honey (adjust for taste).

5 thoughts on “Figs and a Fresh Start

  1. This looks amazing! Eric loves figs, so we will have to try the recipe. Also, congrats to the Greek and to you! 😉

  2. I just recently happened upon this blog when trying to find a picture of a Brothers Karamazov cake (no images exist- who knew!) and I love it. 🙂

  3. -Thanks, Josefina! I'm happy to have made your (and the Critical Companion's) evening! Enjoy the figs!
    -Girl C, thank you! I hope you and E like them! 🙂
    -Anonymous, thank you! I've never heard of a Brothers Karamazov cake, but it's a great idea. I wonder if there's an illustration from one of the older editions (1940s/50s) that you could recreate with icing? If you ever find anything, let me know! 🙂

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