on my counter are some of my vinegar friends. my love of vinegar is well-documented for all kinds of household uses see here. but i haven't really begun to mine the depths of culinary usage. they are crucial for salads of course, but also for some asian soups, or cabbage, or japanese vinegared dishes or chinese marinades and sauces, german and russian entrees. they, like lemon juice, can be a cook's best friend. adding that certain je ne sais quoi (zing) to favored dishes.
according to traditional chinese medicine, vinegar is medicinal as well, warding off flu and viruses and as a tonic for everything from the kidneys and liver to easing pain and headaches see here and here. right now i am trying to think of how to use that lovely figue vinegar. i so love figs this time of year. when i am at the grocery store looking at the puny slightly wrinkled figs they have here in new england is when i miss california the most, the gorgeous gigantic luscious purple figs, so ripe and squishy and juicy. when r and i lived in LA briefly in the early 90s, we lived down the block from the Fig Man. at least that is what his little handmade cardboard sign said next to his fold up chair and card table. he sold the figs from his backyard trees in a somewhat suburban section of west LA/santa monica, at random intervals. his figs were unbeliveable. he would hand them to you wrapped in a nice brown paper bag and sort of shove them gingerly into your hand with whispered, urgent, imperative instructions for storage, "they must be kept refrigerated," he would impart, as though he hated to give any of them up at all.
so i am left dreaming of a fig salad i could compose with the fig vinegar. but the grocery store figs are not cooperating and soon it will be persimmon season. where are you fig man or purveyor of fine fresh figs? the search continues.