I'm not sure how many of my friends ate figs throughout their childhood but I have plenty memories of eating them. Not fresh figs but the dried version that comes packed so perfectly into a circular pattern, one fig next to the other, like peas in a pod. My mom or dad would pull out a package from the pantry and all of us would take our turns grabbing one after another, anticipating every sweet little bite.
But there is a method to eating the dried figs, according to me. One must grab the dried fig by the "handle", the stem actually, which is not edible since it is hard and chewy. Since the dried figs we bought always came packed together, you need to first grab and pull the stem away from the body. Then you have the mighty handle, as I call it, that will allow you to eat this sweet succulent fruit, the "correct" way.
Secondly, one must only bite into the fleshy fruit enough to leave half the fruit remaining, no popping the whole fig into your mouth, as that would be a travesty! Why, you wonder? Because, you must be able to admire the beautiful inside, full of little seeds that pop with every bite. As a child, I often would use my front teeth to rake out the center, enjoying a full concentration of seeds and it's honey-like flesh, leaving the outer skin to eat last. Another reason to only bite into half or merely peel open the fig? To check for insects. I have eaten hundreds, if not thousands of figs and have only had one or two incidents of insects within the bulb-like bodies, however, once this has happened to you, your paranoia alert heightens and then you always bite into it first to do a quality check.
Lastly, the chewy outer skin remains of the fig. I would pop the rest of the fig and throw away the handle. The skin is also sweet with a toothsome bite leaving you looking for your next experience. Figs seem like the perfect fruit, giving many textures and tastes.
Fresh figs are very similar experience, however not as sweet as their dried versions. Their delicate skins are a fresh green color with some varieties giving either purple or brown color when ripened.
I purchased a handful of fresh figs for Christmas dinner. Using a damp cloth, I lightly wiped the skins clean and set them aside. With a double boiler, melt good quality white chocolate and dip the fruits to coat the outside. Set them onto a wire rack to dry before serving. Any chocolate can be used, dark or milk varieties, but I find the white chocolate gives a punch to the colorful exterior to the fig.
My pantry often has dried figs and my children love eating them as well. I'll bring home fig jams to change it up from our usual berry variety and every so often, I'll bring bring home fig cookies. I'm sure many of you remember the infamous Fig Newton cookies, which I very much loved eating throughout my childhood. Figs. A life without them just wouldn't be as sweet.