First Fig

The poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay – not the luscious fruit from my grandfather’s fig tree – but both I remember fondly.   An interview with Caroline Kennedy in the New York Times “By the Book” reminded me; she recited it for her father – I for my Italian grandfather…

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light.

Fresh Fig Compote

When my grandmother could get to them before all the children ate them off the tree, she made compote for the grownups:


1/2 pound fresh figs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons Sambuca

Heat butter and brown sugar over high heat, stirring frequently, until syrup begins to bubble. Add figs (quartered with stems removed) and stir to coat with the syrup.  Continue cooking over medium heat to caramelize, stirring constantly to prevent burning.  Just before serving, add the Sambuca.

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