The Eggplant Story

We have here a true story - all my stories are true - of a traumatic moment in my early education and the impact it had on my understanding that beauty may well be only skin deep!

I had not adjusted to school by grade one.  Every morning I protested with all my might, kicking, biting and howling.  I was becoming accustomed to the daily battle and the loss of it.  Sometimes I would sneak a puzzle piece and hide it in the pocket of my dress. I would return it the next day. I was not an evil child, after all. Maybe a bit subversive. It was just a satisfying form of protest, a personal assurance that I had not submitted heart and soul to the great unifying machinery that education is, let's admit it, at bottom. 

One day, however, was different. 

Thanksgiving was approaching, and my teacher, had constructed a cornucopia of fall vegetables on the big, polished oak table by the window. Schools had windows in those days. Tall and wide. That window faced west. 

She did a very good job of that cornucopia, my teacher.  There were colourful gourds and winter squash, fascinating in their own right.  I had never seen such creatures before since my mother hadn't developed a fondness for squash at that point. But perched atop that artfully tumbling array of vegetables was a large, intensely purple, shining eggplant! I had certainly never seen one of those before. It was astonishing!   

As the days crept slowly, as only school days can, toward Thanksgiving, I  loved to watch the eggplant glow in purple majesty as the afternoon sun crept over it. I was besotted with that thing!  I even fought going to school less passionately because the eggplant was there in all its glory. 

That fateful day, while I was was gazing at the sun polishing my eggplant, I saw what appeared to be a minor miracle.  The eggplant seemed to inhale, and then to exhale into a, oh no, collapsed ruin, a cloud of spores, I suppose, blasting into the beams of the afternoon sun.  I was, of course, both horrified and amazed. 

The teacher noticed, made a squeak of disgust, gathered up the body of the eggplant and pitched it into the garbage can by her desk.  

I was devastated, but I didn't cry.  My passion for that vegetable was the first of many secret passions, after all. Don't say you can't relate. 

And so, in grade one, I learned that there's no point in fighting school. You just have to go anyway and it might hold some exotic secrets.  And I learned in a moment that beauty can't be trusted; you have to know what's inside.  If that's all you get out of grade one, it's probably enough. 

Cooking eggplant:

Eggplants are a good addition to the diet. Seems they contain some thing or other that facilitates blood flow to the brain, though I'm not sure how many you'd have to eat to notice the difference. And all sorts of good things we all probably need. 

Eggplants should be stored in the refrigerator until ready to cook, but I  think we've all figured that out by now. 

It is a good idea to "sweat" slices of eggplant before cooking. This makes them less bitter, and improves their texture. Also makes them less able to soak up oil like a sponge. 

To sweat eggplant :

Slice into maybe half inch slices. 

Arrange in a layer on a cloth, or paper towels if you're so disposed. 

Sprinkle liberally with salt

Turn and sprinkle the other side

Go walk the dog or run some errands. When you get back, you will notice that the salt has drawn amazing amount of moisture from the eggplant. Pat dry. Firmly. Rinse to get most of the salt off, and dry again. 

To fry, heat olive oil or whatever oil you have to hot without burning. Fry the eggplant slices until golden. I like to serve with a good spicy tomato sauce and melted mozzarella, but you can have a field day Googling eggplant recipes!  

Did you know that you can search for a recipe by entering ingredients you have on hand in the search bar?  Well there you go then!