One of the things that I have learned about my new French family is that they enjoy cooking most, if not all, of their foods at home. From yogurt, to jam, to creamy chocolate fudge sauce, if they can make it homemade, they will do it. It’s something I’m constantly impressed by. Each time they pull out some new recipe or unfamiliar machine, I’m exclaim, “Cool!” ( a word I’ve been using a lot lately) and promptly walk over to check it out.
Yesterday, it was yogurt. At first I was confused. Did my sparse French betray me or did they really just say they’re making yogurt? Me, the American, shamefully asks,”You don’t buy it at the store??” They explained that when they were looking at yogurt in the stores, there were all these additives and unnecessary sugars. And all they really wanted was… well, yogurt. So they started making their own. This rectangular machine was pulled out from below the counter, reminiscent of the 70’s with groovy orange motif.
Then, as I stared wide eyed, they mixed one part Greek Fage yogurt, 2 parts milk. All the little containers were placed inside, heated up and left to rest overnight, et voila! The next morning I looked at all the little jars just waiting to be eaten, fully convinced that this was wonderful food magic. Needless to say I was delighted when they said I could use it anytime.
But of the things they’ve made, I have to admit that the best was fresh fig jam. My mother and I share a love for fresh figs. They remind us of my grandmother, and they taste like summer. Before I left, we had actually commented on how difficult they are to find, even in season, and how much we miss eating them. Once, my mother’s friend gave her a fig tree in hopes that it would grow and our house would be fig plentiful, but it died in the endless Texas heat. When we find them at the grocery store, I swear we practically coo with excitement. So when the family came home last Friday with carts full of fresh figs from a local friend’s garden, I was besides myself.
The next morning, most of these delicious fruits were sliced up in a pot, covered in sugar. I just stood there, looking into the huge saucepan, pathetically hoping they wouldn’t need to put the lid on so I could keep smelling the deliciousness. And it was so easy to make this goodness- just sugar and figs. Even me, a girl who repeatedly burns pots, could do that. Of course I know that many, many people make their own jam; it’s probably not something to be exceedingly impressed by. Heck, Taylor Swift does it all the time. But I’d never seen someone make fig jam before. All those sticky sweet figs in one place felt scrumptiously glutinous and it made my day.
After dinner, we sat around the table silently eating all the leftover figs for dessert. Only my Southern upbringing prevented me from eating half the basket. Now the jam is finished and countless glass jars sit in the pantry, so pretty they beg to be eaten. But I’ve found that I kind of like just looking at them. With so many safely in a jar, it give me a false hope that I will never be without figs again.