This week I travelled to the St. Lawrence market located 92-95 Front Street, Toronto, Ontario in search of a fruit I had never eaten before. I had always seen the market from George Brown and finally took the opportunity to explore it. It hurt that it was so close to a place I visited every day but had never actually gone in. Living in Scarborough it was quite the journey early a Saturday morning. Although it is just around the corner from school, I never have the time to visit it during the week. My trip started on a trip on the 504 streetcar, one of the many streetcars that run through downtown Toronto.
From there, I walked to St Lawrence Market from Jarvis Street.
The market itself was bustling with people, eagerly doing their grocery shopping from the wide variety of venders and their varied wares. These included: meats, cheeses, bread and of course fruits and vegetables. Most vendors had fruits I had already tried before such as blueberries, strawberries, mangoes but I was in search of a fruit I had never tried to widen my culinary horizons. Finally, one vendor had a fruit I had never tried before as itself; fig. I had Fig Newton’s as a child, but never the real fruit and I was keen to compare the two. They looked very unappealing from the outside but I was determined to try them. After purchasing a tub, I took them home to analyze them. Public analysis had proven slightly embarrassing from my trip to China town.
Figs are an Asian species related to mulberries. It is native to the Middle east and western Asia but has since been spread throughout the world due to its popularity. They are harvested about four times a year and usually develop in spring, summer and fall. AS of 2016 Turkey is the leading producer of figs, producing 27% of the worlds figs. Figs can usually be used in jams, or stewed in a variety of savoury dishes.
The skin was “furry” which reminded me of a peach. Its aroma was predominantly fruity with a slight earthy, floral aroma. The fruit itself was tender and soft, with little no resistance to the bite; with a slightly thicker skin. With regards to the taste, it was sweet and fruity, there was a slightly bitter aftertaste that hung in the mouth minutes after eating. It was not overly juicy but I enjoyed the taste and proceeded to eat half the bin I bought.
The figs in my opinion are not overly sweet as with other fruits such as mangoes, so I felt they could blend well in a savoury dish, and seeing as my favorite meat is lamb I felt accompanying some lamb with it would be amazing. Using the figs in a sauce to pair with the lamb felt the best option. Seeing as I had never cooked with fig before I scoured the internet for a recipe to try out the rest of my figs with and found one articled by http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/seared-baby-lamb-chops-with-fig-balsamic-pan-sauce/. Which includes lamb chops with a fig- balsamic pan sauce.
This blog taught me to think outside the box when looking for ingredients to cook with. Additionally, seeing that most fruits are not available year round it is best to work with them as they come in. This allows for variety in your menu and reduced food costs as fruits in season are generally cheaper than those that are not in season.