Our friend the eggplant

August 21, 2007

First off, let me recommend the movie “Stardust”.

I’m a big movie fan, and have gone to practically everything this summer, and hated most of it. I had pretty much decided not to blog about films, since I had nothing positive to say, and didn’t want to systematically ruin everyone’s Friday night with my sharp tongue.

But “Stardust”. Sigh. Go, and go often. Not perfect, but close enough. Belongs on the same DVD shelf as “Princess Bride.” I can give it a romance writer thumbs up, since it is a lovely romantic fairy tale. And my geek side loves it because it is from a book by Neil Gaiman.

Neil Gaiman happens to be the object of one of my bigger writer crushes. I love love love “American Gods,” I love “Coraline” (which reminds me in tone, of a creepy kids book series I used to read. Anyone else read the “Green Knowe” stories?)

And I really love the short story he did about Snow White, where SW is a vampire and the Prince is a necrophiliac. It’s grim, but it makes perfect sense, when you think about it.

I also love the fact that Neil Gaiman lives in Wisconsin, with two cats and a dog and some goldfish. According to his recent journal entries, he has beehives and the corn in the garden is ready, and the berries are ripe…

So basically, he’s living my ideal country life, as it would be if I weren’t screwing it up. I have the correct pets in place. But when we moved here, there were raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries and two acres of garden.

Now, there are 2 acres of empty field, overgrown berry patches and some very fat Orioles. I take consolation that all the songbirds in the neighborhood are hanging with us, because they are eating so well.

But in Neil’s garden, the aubergines are ready.

Everyone else in the state of Wisconsin is growing eggplants. But he has aubergines, because he is English. And since I am fascinated by all things English, I was thinking fondly of those aubergines, as I went through the farmer’s market the other day. There they were, beautiful, shiny, purple. So I bought one.

There was only one problem with this: I don’t like eggplant. I like to look at it. But recipes I’ve tried have always turned out as the sort of thing you slip onto the buffet table for a party full of people you hate.

But I am trying to open my mind to knew things. So I imagined them as aubergines, and didn’t cheat and rush the salting and draining step. I made eggplant parmesan. Several hours, and one second degree burn later (which I got during the fan frying step) I pulled the pan out of the oven.

I assured the kids that this was a “real recipe, and not just something made up by vegetarians as a trick.”

And then I let them eat first.

Even #2 son, who is a zen master of slipping vegetables to the dog, was cleaning his plate.

I tried it.
It was heaven.
I sent #1 son back to the market for more eggplants.

Tonight, I made moussaka. From an internet recipe labeled “Southern American cooking”. Rome Georgia, perhaps?

I used half and half ground beef and ground venison. The gamey taste that venison can give to a dish, completely disappeared under a dash of cinnamon and a layer of eggplanty goodness.

#2 son went back for seconds. As did I.

Later this week, I’ll be making ratatouille. Maybe I hate ratatouille (Although I heard the movie is good. But I didn’t see it. Because I don’t like eggplant.)