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Summer Fruits in Italy

figSummer in my house means that I’m making gelato every week out of the fresh fruit available at our locals farmer’s market. It’s a real treat, and there is absolutely nothing like bringing home fresh strawberries in the morning and turning them into ice cream that afternoon. I’ll have to post my tried-and-true recipe for strawberry gelato here at some point, especially as it requires zero cooking whatsoever (that’s part of what makes it such a treat).

It’s fresh fruit season in Italy, too, and two bloggers I read have written about different fruits lately. Deirdré posted pictures of cherries and plums, and KC posted pictures of figs.

At any rate, Deirdré’s post includes some handy fruit words in Italian, with pronunciation tips, so you can feel confident ordering the kinds of gelato that you know you want this summer. I’ve never seen nectarine gelato, so I didn’t even know that word before looking at her list. Perhaps I’ll have to try to make my own nectarine gelato this summer!

KC’s post adequately captures, at least to me, the ecstasy that is a fresh, ripe fig. I don’t know how old I was when I realized that the brown gooey stuff inside a Fig Newton actually came from a fruit, but in high school my mother and I discovered that the fig tree that grew alongside our house actually bore a stunning amount of fruit. We spent a summer trying to figure out what to do with all of them (the best our meagre American cookbooks could offer was fig-rhubarb jam, which was good, but not totally satisfying), and we ended up eating many of them raw. A ripe fig is really one of the more amazing fruits, both in flavor and texture, and if you haven’t tried one you are really missing out.

The picture above is one of the lovely ripe figs the husband and I ate in Croatia last year, picked fresh from the homeowner’s garden where we stayed – and just seeing that picture again is making my mouth water. As an aside, fresh figs are, sadly, generally unheard of around here. I bought some beautiful-looking figs from a local organic food store last week, thinking they’d be excellent and remind us of our last few trips to Europe, but they’d been picked before they were perfectly ripe and so weren’t nearly as flavorful as I remember. And now all this talk of the perfect fresh fig has me pining for even a handful…