It wasn't so long ago that if you said "fig," it was almost automatically assumed that you were talking about the dried kind. If you wanted fresh, you practically had to have your own tree. Well, having your own tree is still a really good idea, but these days fresh figs are plentiful at both farmers markets and in fancy supermarkets.
The big question is why did they ever go away? Figs are one of the glories of summer. Truly ripe ones are melting in texture with a tender crunch from the little seeds. The flavor is like a combination of honey and berry jam.
They're terrific eaten right out of hand, or you could do something simple like serve them with lightly sweetened mascarpone or whipping cream. If you can find some really good, fresh ricotta (or make your own), that is best of all.
Most of the figs you'll find will be dark-skinned Black Mission or Brown Turkey. They are very good. Green figs are usually Kadota – a variety that is best for drying but is still OK fresh (though the skin is fairly thick). If you can find green Adriatics, they are exquisite. Even better, we're starting to get commercial plantings of the amazing Panachée or Tiger fig.