Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Will Never, Not Ever, Eat Eggplant

Guess what my husband has eaten every day since we've been in Greece? Eggplant salad. Dude don't do eggplant. Eggplant is one of his forbidden foods. Most Indian people love eggplant but he thinks it's gross and spongy and weird. I have been watching him eat it for 5 days and haven't said anything, but today I just felt particularly obnoxious and had to point out that he'd been scarfing the stuff for days.

"But this is 'good' eggplant," he said.


This was a head scratcher. Not just because the Greek eggplant salad he'd been eating had, well, eggplant in it. It also was creamy. Dude don't do creamy. In fact, I could go far enough to say that my husband has a deep fear of all things creamy (except ice cream--the man is human, after all).

"What makes this 'good' eggplant?" I asked.

He sort of looked annoyed. He just wanted to eat the eggplant, not analyze it, but I couldn't let it go.

"I don't know what makes it 'good' eggplant but it is."

As if that was going to pacify me.

"But it's creamy," I said.

He gave me the universal look for duh, Moron! and kept eating the eggplant, slathered on a piece of grilled bread.

I helpfully ticked off a list of creamy foods that he professes to hate and will not eat: sour cream, yogurt, ranch or blue cheese dressing, mayo, tzatziki, just about any kind of dip, white trash food.

He just shrugged.

This was making me nuts.

"Is it the grilled bread?" I asked. "Could it be that you just really love grilled bread and you could smear anything on it and you'd think it was delicious?"

"I'm pretty sure I'm smarter than that, even if you don't think so."

"Is it the spices? Could it be that you just really love lemon and garlic, and you could put lemon and garlic on anything and you'd think it was delicious?"

"Do you really have to be the Inspector Clouseau of Eggplant right now? It's fairly annoying."

"I know, but dude, you are eating creamy eggplant!"

"I think you've had enough wine."

"Hey, hey, I think I know what it is! It's the olive oil, right? It's gotta be the olive oil! Greeks are famous for amazing olive oil, so that's it! Hah. I knew it had to be something."

"You know, I hate to break it to you, but I don't think it's the olive oil. I've been eating olive oil in the Greek Salad all week and now I can't even look at another Greek Salad. So if the oil was the secret weapon of the universe, I'd still be eating Greek Salad. So there."


"Sweetie, calm yourself. I think I do actually know what's amazing about this eggplant."

"Well then just tell me already, douchebag! It's been killing me!"

"I'm eating this eggplant in Greece. There. That's it."

Now of course, he was right. And I could just end this post with that thought, because it's a lovely thought and it came from the heart and he was very sweet and witty.

But of course I can't. I can't leave anything alone; it's a sickness, I tell you.

Now that I am home (okay, only for 5 days but still) I must.replicate.that.eggplant.

I'm thinking that it was eerily close to Baba Ghanoush, which I have no idea how to make. So I looked it up in one of my favorite cookbooks, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Mark Bittman knows his veggies. I trust him.

He has two recipes: one for Roasted Eggplant Dip and one for Baba Ghanoush. The big difference between the two is that Baba Ghanoush has toasted pine nuts and tahini in it, which I think might be right.

Oh, and Bittman tells you to roast the eggplant. He says, "Roasting eggplant gives it such wonderful smoky flavor that even people who claim not to like eggplant often eat this dip enthusiastically."

So I'm going to try them. Both of them, back to back, in an Eggplant Smackdown.

But not now. Because the purchasing of tahini needs to happen at Whole Foods, which is 20 minutes away and I'm too lazy this week (well, 5 days) to make the trip. But I will keep you posted.

And if the miracle ingredient really is Greece, well I guess we'll just have to go back.

Here's the recipe(s) if you are interested.

Roasted Eggplant Dip
from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything
makes at least 6 servings with bread or crackers

2 medium or 4 small eggplant, about 1 pound
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, or to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish

1. Start a charcoal or wood fire, or preheat a gas grill, or turn the oven to 500 degrees F. Pierce the eggplant in several places with a thin-bladed knife or skewer. Grill or roast, turning occasionally, until the eggplant collapses and the skin blackens, 15 to 30 minutes depending on size. Remove and cool.

2. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, part the skin (if it hasn't split on its own), scoop out the flesh, and mince it finely. Mix it with the lemon juice, oil, garlic, cheese, salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings, then garnish and serve, with bread or crackers.

Baba Ghanoush
from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

Omit the oil and the cheese from above recipe. While the eggplant is grilling or roasting, toast 1/2 cup of pine nuts by heating them in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking occasionally, just until they begin to brown. When the eggplant is cool, put it into the container of a food processor with the pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste). Process until very smooth, adding a few teaspoons of water or olive oil if necessary. Taste and add salt and/or more lemon juice or garlic if necessary. Garnish with minced parsley and serve.


  1. Two things:
    1. I think Baba Ghanoush is a really fun word to say (OK, two words, whatever)
    2. My Hubs HATES all creams, too. Anything white...forget it. That entire list you posted? He won't eat any of that either. Drives me nuts.

  2. Ha ha! Your entries never fail to entertain and amuse me!!! xxx

  3. I agree, Gibby. Baba Ghanoush is superfun to say and it kind of makes me giggle every time. I think I'll try to use it at least once every day from now on.