My first sight of a fresh fig was in the infamous scene in Ken Russell's film of DH Lawrence's Women in Love when Rupert Birkin demonstrates how to break into one with your thumbs, pull the cheeks created apart and then suck the flesh out with you lips alluding in that Lawrencian way to the sexual imagery of the fig as vagina. For an 17 year old who had skipped school to see the film, that scene was as erotic as it was intended to be, never mind that this particular 17 year old was (undeclared to himself) homosexual.
It wasn't until years later that I came across my first fruiting fig tree in the backyard of one of the share houses of my university days. The tree produced a lot of green figs which birds had a great time pecking into and so few got anywhere near ripe and those that did were underwhelming.
Since then I've had many a fresh fig via Italian fruit shops first and then more widely as they were popularised. Charlie, my Calabrian neighbour across the road, often brings some across in season from the tree in his front yard. I went fig and chestnut picking on one of the bus trips he organises annually for the Italian and Portuguese communities in Leichhardt and Petersham. You can read about that trip at Not That Old Chestnut (not my choice of title, it was Andrew Wood's, editor of the much missed Divine magazine in which the article was printed).
All this by way of saying that it's fig season again, and I have had my first by way of a delectable fig and ricotta brioche from Black Star Pastry at the Newtown end of Australia Street. The sugary sweetness of the fig and brioche are nicely balanced by the milky sweetness of the ricotta and cut into by the sesame and poppy seeds on the brioche. The mouth feel is unctuous, the ripeness of the fig, the creaminess of the ricotta and the light almost sponge-ness of the brioche combining smoothly on the palate. Visually it seduces, the golds of the brioche echoing the khaki/bronze of the skin and core of the fig, the flecks of sesame and poppy like fig seeds grown fat and burst from their pink fleshy bed, the white of the ricotta seeming to have leached out of the band of white inner flesh of the fig. It's disingenuously simple in its ingredients and its execution.