So this is our last weekend for a long time without football. The season starts on Friday and I'm thanking my lucky stars our television is still on the fritz. I'm not the biggest football fan and the thought of Sandie Roberts dulcet tones ringing out in the loungeroom for eighteen Saturdays in a row makes me shudder. I'm not exactly a great ambassador for the AFL, but really, I don't discriminate between codes. None of it is that appealing to me.
The real reason I dislike football may be that my team of choice has not had a great season since the year I was born. I like to think of myself as the ultimate bad luck charm: just being alive has ruined their chances of success. It's a crazy kind of power I wield. The Richmond Tigers tend to be the punchline of any lame football joke. It's hard to get excited about the game when you know your team will be relegated to last place from about four games into the season. No matter, they have the best theme song going 'round. That's all that counts, right?
But football isn't all bad. The best thing about big buff men kicking a pig skin around a patch of grass is the food you get to eat while being bored out of your brains. Pies, sausages rolls, hearty stews all feature on any footy menu worth its salt (and there's no shortage of that either). I hate to reinforce gender stereotypes, but while the guys enjoy the game on television, I'm more content in the kitchen. I do my bit for womanhood by leaving a giant mess for Matty to clean later.
I've decided to feature a few football recipes for any AFL fans to whip up over the coming months. And for those of us that are not fans, I hope these go some way to distract you from the impending torture you're about to experience. Good luck with that.
The start of footy season also coincides with the end of fig season. It may be another reason I'm down on the game: it's like some higher power had to choose between figs and football, because they couldn't possibly coexist peacefully. I presume figs lost out because they make a mess of the footpath. But while the little ruby beauties are still around I'm getting my fill as much as humanly possible.
Here, I've messed with them as little as possible. It seems silly even writing a recipe. Just make sure you pick up some super ripe figs and handle them very carefully (don't leave them in the boot of you car with your heavy groceries, as I did, sliding from end to end as you hoon around corners). The pancetta should be pretty salty and smokey to take on the sweetness of the fig. My butcher picked up this pancetta came from a Croatian supplier who manages to breed a pig with a fair amount of meat betwen the layers of fat.
It might seem strange serving these up for a football feast. But they're the perfect segue to a meat-fest: small, sweet treats with a bit of a smokey kick. A hunk of spelt sourdough from Dench and it's a snack made in football heaven. Even if football heaven is my idea of hell, at least the grub's good.
12 slices of pancetta
Wrap each fig in a slice of pancetta (two if they're big figs). Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a fry pan over low heat and add the figs. Cook each side slowly until crispy. Serve with a big red wine and some great bread.