Aubergine, eggplant, melongene, brinjal, or guinea squash, call them what you will, just make sure I have plenty in the garden.
Confession time, until very recently, five years ago, I was not an eggplant fan.
You see there had been an eggplant “incident”.
I, in all my wisdom, at the tender age of 15, you know, when you still know everything, decided I would cook for our family. Maria made the same thing every week. You could construct a calendar by her. Monday meatloaf, Tuesday lamb, Wednesday chicken, etc. So after some considerable buttering up of my Grampa Wilson, I made my pitch. I laid it on thick, Maria had enough work to do, I could use more responsibilities, we really needed more nutritional meals. You name it, I used it. And…it worked!
Well sort of, he gave me Thursday. Thursday was to be my night, all me, oh forever more, what had I done? Of course, Grampa Wilson had seen through the buttering up, and trumped me with ease. Maria and Carlos stayed for supper every night but Grampa said that on Thursdays, their whole family would be coming. Supper for ten every Thursday night. Glub…glub…I’m drowning here!
So, I did what I always do when I find myself in a conundrum. I hit the library and every local book store. I came home with scads of books. Over the next week I came up with a one month plan for Thursday night meals. Week one went without a hitch. We had stuffed pork chops, baby carrots, salad with homemade vinaigrette and apple pie for dessert. Easy peasy. Well sort of, it’s really hard cooking for that many people.
Week two…the eggplant incident.
Now as I’ve already said, I was 15 and I did know everything. Week two is Ratatouille. So easy a rat could make a whole restaurant with it, right? Yes, well there seems to be a little more to it than that. What turned out of that kitchen was so beautiful, it was a kaleidoscope of colors with the eggplant, the tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, Parmesan, garlic…it was beautiful and shiny.
Unfortunately, we had to eat it, not take pictures with it.
What it was, was bitter. Very bitter. Unbelievably, disgustingly, undeniably bitter. Because it had so many veggies in it, I had not done sides. I had made Rosemary bread and custard for dessert but bread and custard were not going to fill ten hungry bellies.
In true Grampa Wilson fashion, he saved my bacon. In 45 minutes he made a London Broil and mashed parsnips that, with the custard and bread took care of things.
I thought for sure Thursday cooking duties were over for me, and I must say I was a little relieved, they were overrated. I had done it for two whole weeks and that was about enough.
Fast forward 22ish years. I have never attempted eggplant again. By this time I have my own household, a husband, four kids, a huge garden. I come across seeds for white eggplant. White eggplant? Fascinating. I have some room in one corner of the garden, so why not?
It ends up, Eggplant, where have you been all these years?
So, if for any reason, you haven’t tried growing eggplant, let me introduce you to a real beauty to tame the beast.
Like a tomato and potato in the family of the nightshade. They are natives of India, but are grown everywhere. The particular eggplant I will tell you about today is “Gretel”. “Gretel” is the reason I started to grow and love eggplants. To start with, “Gretel” is white, not purple. “Gretel” is long and skinny, not teardrop at all.