Well, here it is, the last day of summer. It was an odd season this year here in New York; it took forever to get really warm, and then when it did it passed very quickly. I myself didn't manage to do any summery things - didn't get down to Coney Island, or go swimming or bike riding or have a bar-b-q. But I did get to enjoy the wonderful fruits and vegetables of summer, thanks to my landlady.
Mrs. R is 80 years old and as full of moxy as ever, and keeps the entire backyard of our little duplex as a vegetable garden. From it over the past three months has sprung more raddiccio and arugula than you can shake a stick at, not to mention some mighty fine tomatoes and cucumbers. With these we cooked, garnished sandwiches, and enjoyed them on their lonesome in simple salads dressed only with salt, pepper, fine olive oil, and lemon juice.
But the real jewel of it all has been the figs, from the tree that her relatives brought over from Europe as a wee sapling, that has now grown up into a 15 foot tall beauty. Until she began to bring them to us by the plateful, I had never had fresh figs before - only dry. What a surprise!They have a flavor and texture all their own, not at all that comparable to any other fruit I've tasted. The flesh and skin are so delicate that they are impossible to ship or store - this is why you never see them in the grocery. It's also why you can eat the entire fruit, skin and all, right up to the stem.
There is nothing more nourishing and satisfying than food grown in your own backyard. I hope that one day, when I have a backyard to call my own, I'll remember it and have such a beautiful garden as this one!
Until next Monday,