Come to think of it, the usual ingredients of both dishes are similar—eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, garlic, herbs and onions. I sliced the eggplant and vegetables; the French stew’s ingredients are cubed. The joy is to simply use fresh ingredients from farm to table. Memory fades. Vaguely I believe I simply placed a layer of sliced eggplant, sliced tomatoes, zucchini, then some red peppers topped with some mozzarella cheese. I repeated this combination and method until the top was finished off with fresh parmesan and bread crumbs. There was olive oil involved in the process, as well as fresh basil and pepper. To this day, I don’t salt my food, not even a pinch.
Living alone now, during the pandemic, I enjoy stir-frying on the stove as well as baking my eggplant dishes. I “season to taste” depending on my mood. Sometimes I cut up fresh basil. Often I add curry powder or ginger. When corn was abundant in season last August, I’d add corn fresh off the cob. I’m not a purist and enjoy the variety of including cauliflower, broccoli florets, baby carrots, snap peas, asparagus and squash.
I’m thankful to Virginia and Tom for awakening in me all the delicious eggplant moments of rapture I’ve shared with friends and family. I’ve forged inexplicable connections simply from mutual excitement about eggplant.
Thank you, Maggie, for your eggplant soup and your individual stacks served in ramekins. Saddia, your summer eggplant vegetable dish has no equal. Regan, everyone at Doug’s birthday party raved about the eggplant you served as a main course a few weeks before the pandemic.
Mari, thank you for your scrumptious eggplant vegetarian option at your restaurant, Breakwater. You spoil me, always creating something new for our Happiness Retreat’s celebration dinners. Chef Martin, thank you for making your eggplant stack for good friends at your Mexican restaurant Milagro. Truly a miracle.
Eggplant, in all her glory, is ambrosia, food for the gods, everlasting happiness.
Virginia and Tom didn’t exactly get an eggplant recipe. Their quest for one, however, led me to muse on the subtitle of the book they read: The Path from Perfectionism to Balance and Freedom. The kitchen is an ideal place to explore, invent, concoct and create your favorite dishes.
For all of you who can take it or leave it, substitute aubergine for ingredients you like to cook, serve and savor. Bon appétit!