In my Paris apartment building, there are the neighbors who I greet in the hallway, and then there are those who I’ve never met, but who I know a lot about. I’m talking about the guy who lives across the cour, or courtyard. His kitchen window faces my kitchen window, and we often prepare dinner at the same time. He looks very pleasant, perhaps a few years older than me, quite bald, it must be said, and with a chic goatee.
Of course, I’m not the first person to notice their neighbor across the courtyard — hello, Rear Window. But I must admit that I am astonishingly uncurious about this neighbor of mine. (Astonishing, that is, for someone as preternaturally nosy as I usually am.) No, I don’t really want to know anything about Monsieur Voisin. Mainly, I think, because I don’t really want him to know anything about me.
Despite myself, here is what I’ve noticed:
–He lives alone.
–He likes to eat dinner at 8pm.
–He cooks with the window open.
–He’s often away on the weekend — possibly has house in the country?
–He goes away for the entire month of August.
Even though I’m not searching for any more details about Monsieur Voisin, I do like seeing him bustle about his kitchen as I bustle about mine. He has a big, yellow lamp with a paper shade, and it makes me happy when his windows glow. It’s sort of like we’re cooking together, two people who will never meet (I hope), connected by the minutia of our daily existence.
Here are some photos of the market’s early autumn produce, and a recipe for my new favorite autumn dessert, roasted figs. What can I say? It seems neighborly to share them with you.
Chestnuts and more grapes.
Oysters return to the market.
Figs and late peaches.
12 fresh Black Mission figs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Cassis
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Greek yogurt and honey (for serving)
Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Prick the bottom of each fig and place them in a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle them with the sugar and add water. Bake the figs, basting twice with the pan juices, about 30 minutes.
When the figs are tender, carefully drain the juices and place them in a saucepan, along with Grand Marnier and Cassis. Boil over medium heat, until the juices are syrupy. Serve figs and syrup warm, with a dollop of thick, Greek yogurt drizzled with honey.