Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Eggplant Experiment

When you think of traditional Italian food, what comes to mind? I think of things I've see on an Olive Garden menu- spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli, lasagna, fettuccine alfredo, eggplant parmesan. I have tried and love every one of these meals, except for eggplant parmesan. I've always wanted to, but eggplant? Who is possibly tempted by a word like eggplant? Is it an egg? Hardly. A vegetable? Maybe. Some weird hybrid? Quite possibly. All I know for sure, is that it sounds absolutely horrid. But have you ever seen an eggplant? It's intriguing- its unique dark purple hue, its curved shape, its smooth outer casing. Eggplant always has appeared to me to be a very sophisticated choice, even if its name makes me want to gag a little.

One of my goals on this Indiana adventure has been to learn to cook. It's going well so far. The other day I decided I wanted to try a new pasta, but pasta is pretty basic. I mean, boil some noodles and chop some tomatoes, right? How can you make cooking pasta difficult? I don't think you can. So I decided to try a new ingredient- the eggplant. I would make sausage rigatoni with eggplant, and it surely would be phenomenal.

It was only after I bought all my ingredients that I realized I had no clue if I even liked eggplant. I'd never even tried it. It was only then that it dawned on me that it might be a bad idea to cook something with a main ingredient whose only appeal is that it appears sophisticated. Sophisticated? Who eats something based on criteria like that? Only crazy people, I'm sure. Perhaps my whole dinner was doomed to be a disaster because of a faulty connection my brain had made with sophistication and deliciousness.

But make the pasta I did. I was quite surprised to see what an eggplant looks like on the inside, and even more surprised to try a bite and find it was absolutely vile. Well, it was too late to turn back at that point. All I could hope was that it would taste better cooked and covered with lots and lots of salt, pepper, and anything else I could think of to mask that disgusting taste.

End result- not too bad. Thank goodness the rest of the recipe was marvelously delicious. I think I'll actually make it again some time, only next time substitute the eggplant with mushrooms, artichokes, or anything else that I actually know to taste good. This is the last time I will be tricked by the fascinating violet of a name-confused vegetable.


  1. I really like you and your cooking experiments. Now I know not to order eggplant parmesan.

  2. When I was on my mission 35 years ago, I frequently ate eggplant parmesan...when it was served to us. I thought it was so disgusting!!! I tried to get used to it...couldn't!!! I'm so proud of you for trying it! If I had my choice between eating eggplant or chewing on my foot...I'd chew on my foot!!!!
    You are a great writer Erin. You should write a book! Love you both. Dad/David