(Fig)uring It All Out

There are some perks to getting older. If you do it right, you also get wiser. Well, wise might be a bit of a stretch. Suffice to say you may just become too tired to worry about things that don’t really matter.

Nevertheless, realizing you don’t need to have all your eccentricities compartmentalized and your cobwebs swept up is invigorating. Sure, my garden currently looks like it is being tended to by the crypt keeper and sure I’ve had to check that my pants weren’t being worn inside-out already once this week, but perfection is overrated.

Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers, has a great quote about this:

Perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

So when I found myself agonizing over whether Narragansett Creamery salty sea feta or a French goat cheese was better suited to be stuffed into the figs I was making for dinner, I had to snap myself back to reality. Cheese selection—even in the presence of the stately fig—is not of cosmic significance. (As much as I would like to believe otherwise.) So, I took a few deep breaths in front of the cheese counter, rolled my eyes, and got over myself. Next, I quietly filed ‘cheese selection’ into the ever-expanding list of things that probably won’t change my life.

Then I did something completely out of character: I bought BOTH varieties and decided to let the best cheese win. To my surprise, the feta—the unlikely partner—was better. The fig needed more bite than the goat cheese was willing to give. The roasted fig stuffed with feta and drizzled with maple syrup ended up being the perfect bridge from the end of summer to the beginning of fall.

Though not native to Massachusetts, figs reach peak harvest right around now on the west coast. I always have them on hand, fresh when available or dried when out of season. They are quite special either way.

Not surprisingly, fig trees are also a labor of love to grow, requiring five years or more of TLC before you see a darn fig. Once they do produce, the trees can continue on prolifically for decades, centuries even. It is even said the Buddha reached enlightenment while sitting under an old fig tree.

And he has likely been trying to tell us something about this all along. Slow down. Breathe. Eat more figs. (Though I am not quite sure how he’d feel about them being wrapped in bacon.)

So pardon the pun, but I’ve fig-ured out you don’t have to have all the questions of your life answered and your problems wrapped up with little pink bows. It helps to leave some room for possibility: see what develops. It’s much more fun this way. And much less scary. This is true enlightenment, at least for me; that, and eating pretty much anything encased in bacon.

Stuffed Figs Wrapped in Bacon with Maple Syrup

Fresh figs
Hazelnut oil (or any other you prefer)
Smoked sea salt
Black pepper
Feta cheese (or any other you prefer)
Maple syrup

Preheat oven to 425. Slice figs in half and toss gently with oil until they are lightly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Stuff the center of your fig with a small amount of feta. Wrap in bacon and secure with a toothpick. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until bacon is crisped. Drizzle with maple syrup. Sprinkle with additional sea salt, if desired.

-I didn't list amounts for the ingredients in this recipe, nor provide a yield; who am I to decide what amount of fig or bacon is right for you at this very moment? Enjoy experimenting.

-I buy bacon from Stillman's Farm. They raise animals consciously and humanely, which I like to think the Buddha would appreciate. It's also not very salty, so you may have to adjust your seasoning depending on the bacon you use.


  1. I always love the thought of stuffed figs, but have yet to make them. These sound great! I also love Anne Lamott. She was one of my dad's favorite authors. That quote is soooo perfect!

  2. One of my favorite fruity desserts is grilled figs. Loved the pun. And I don't know if I can agree with you about cheese selection not being life changing...

  3. Oh, the joys of fresh figs. I like them with gorgonzola and prosciutto, but your bacon-maple syrup idea definitely has my attention.

    And I agree that one should buy both cheeses, whenever possible. :)

  4. I love that Lamott quote!! And I have heard of figs and bacon together. I haven't tried it yet, but I bet it is so good!

  5. although i've never eaten a fresh fig (sad, isn't it!), i can imagine that combining it with salty bacon, tangy cheese, and sweet syrup would be a party in the mouth!

  6. I worked with some gorgeous pork belly and short ribs from Stillman's Farm this summer. I'm a big fan of them and this dish!

  7. I love that quote! Its one I need to read daily I think :) Your fig recipe sounds delicious...this would make a great appetizer!

  8. Side-by-side comparisons of the same recipe with one ingredient variation always make me feel like I learned so much! The figs look beautiful.

  9. I have all the ingredients on hand, including Narragansett Creamery salty sea feta!!! Can't wait to make these tomorrow. Mmmm, I can almost taste them :)

  10. Ha, so if I could sum up ... sounds like: 1. The more cheese the better. 2. Perfection is overrated. 3. Bacon and other similar pig products are not overrated.

    Elina, I am impressed you had the Narragansett feta cheese on hand: it's surely a sign!