I ❤ eggplant. My attitude for many years was pretty take or leave it, but when I worked on the farm I couldn’t help but develop a fondness for those quirky glossy fruits. We made some variation of ratatouille all summer long, which is still an easy go-to summer dish, along with plenty of baba ganoush. (Side note: I read a wonderful memoir not long ago, called Day of Honey, about an American journalist living and cooking in Beirut, and she explains that a “ganouj” is a shameless flirt; specifically, “baba ganouj” means a flirtatious father.) Since that season, eggplant is often on my shopping list and tahini is a staple in my pantry.
On a recent trip to the farmers market, I was swooning over some particularly gorgeous striped specimens when a fellow shopper leaned in and conspiratorially said, “You know, those are called ‘graffiti’ eggplant. Beautiful, eh?”
I picked up a few to cook with and had barely turned around when another customer called out to me, “Excuse me? How do you usually prepare eggplant?” And as we were chattering away about sauteeting versus roasting versus grilling my co-worker walked by.
Back at the office later that afternoon I popped by my co-worker’s desk to ask a question, and laughed about the perfect stranger giving me the second degree me on my eggplant cooking methods at that farm stand. My co-worker looked surprised. “You mean you don’t work there too?” Apparently I was holding forth with such authority that he thought I was somehow squeezing in a (second) side job helping out at the farmers market.
I can’t help but feel a little pleased at the thought of my affinity for eggplant being so strong that strangers and co-workers alike assume I have expertise.
Later that evening I sauteed the eggplant with farmers market tomato, onions, and garlic, and seasoned with plenty of cumin and curry spice. I made some flatbread dough, rolled out the naan, and fried it up with lots of garlic salt for a crisp and flavorful accompaniment. Mission: quick-Indian-dinner accomplished.
Eggplant was the star of the show!