Иван Васильевич меняет профессию
Ode to Friends, Eggplant and Home
A few months ago, I hopped the train to eastern Long Island to visit my long-time best friend Calli. She and her boyfriend found a cute little space on a bluff overlooking the Sound in the town we grew up in, and I couldn't wait to go home.
The day was absolutely perfect. Fall didn't give in this year for a while around here, so the weather was just right. She had just bought an amazing new oversized love seat, which I happily sat in for the majority of the day, feeling completely engulfed by familiarity and enormous cushions as I looked out toward the water. Then, since eating is what we love to do together, Calli started cooking…and so began my love for eggplant.
Neither one of us was hungry, and since I'd never really cooked anything myself without the immediate intention of eating it, her cooking in the middle of the day for no particular reason caught me off guard. But it was an important experience for me. That day, I learned the unique therapeutic power of cooking, the smell of the onion, eggplant and tomatoes permeating our already relaxing moment. She slow-cooked the vegetables all afternoon, and the end result would be, she said, a fabulous vegetable mush that tasted really good. That it was.
Later that day, a couple of friends stopped by, and we decided to christen her new gorgeous dark-wood table with its first family-style meal. She threw on some pasta, and the vegetable mush became a delicious sauce. What had turned me off to eggplant prior to this was its chewy texture, but the mush was perfect, any chewiness cooked and steamed away. Last night, I recreated this simple dish. I saut©ed onion in very little oil, then added tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. I covered the pan and let it sit on low for a while. I wanted to use the chicken I'd been saving, so I baked it and then threw it in the pan to marry the flavors. I could have mixed my mush with anything, though, like rice or white beans. It would have been nice in a toasted corn tortilla wrap, too. I've listed some more eggplant ideas below.
I left Calli's apartment that day with a new appreciation for food, if that was possible, and a new appreciation for my friend. And I really can't think of any better way to end a weekend on the Long Island Sound.
What are your favorite eggplant-inspired dishes? Tell us in the comments.
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