Food evokes powerful memories. Regardless of our heritage, our memories are irrevocably linked to food. Of course, this is true of holidays and family gatherings but sometimes the simplest treats will bring back distant memories, especially if they’re connected to the ones we love.
I was recently surprised to see one of my special childhood treats on chef Rosella Rago’s website. Many of her recipes are traditional recipes from a region in Italy called Puglia. This particular recipe, however, was a special treat I remember enjoying as a child. Many recipes from Puglia use almonds and figs, which can be found in great abundance in the area. This one, stuffed figs with almonds, was my favorite. My mother used to make large quantities of them and they all disappeared in no time at all.
Of course, they would be little Francesco’s favorite as well.
“The cellar was cool, dark and damp, filled with a familiar musty scent. It was here that the family kept their provisions, which were meant to last through the winter months until the next harvest. Large terracotta jugs, glass jars, and dust-covered bottles of wine lined the shelves on the wall. The jars were filled with tomato sauce made from the summer’s harvest, along with the dense cherry and fig marmalade his mother made and preserved every year. The bottles of wine were dated. Some older ones, labeled aceto, had been reserved for vinegar. Other jugs were filled with olive oil, cured olives and dried figs stuffed with almonds. The figs had been baked in the oven and pressed into large jugs lined with laurel leaves to flavor and preserve them throughout the winter. Sweet and chewy just like candy, they were, of course, his favorite. He knew he shouldn’t take them without asking his mother first. He knew they were supposed to last the whole winter. But he had done this many times before and he thought she would never notice a few missing figs. So he filled his pockets with as many as he could and ran upstairs to the kitchen.”
-from Francesco’s Song by C.M.Furio,
Now available on Amazon
You can get the recipe at http://www.cookingwithnonna.com/italian-cuisine/baked-figs-with-almonds.html
What’s your favorite childhood treat?