After the publicity in the Plain Dealer on the 2012 Corn Smackdown we noticed that people are making their opinions known throughout the Northeast Ohio area!
I got some eggplant, so I fried it. Naturally. It wasn’t nearly as good as Elyse’s for two reasons 1) I am not as good as Elyse and 2) This was second time eating fried eggplant and so the world was already in color. It’s like in Wizard of Oz how exciting it is when they first go from b&w in Kansas to TECHNICOLOR! in Oz. It’s not exciting when they go back to black and white..you know, were they eventually to go back to color. I know I don’t make much sense; just roll with it.
This evening, I took one of the tumid purple eggplants, and one of the rangy white ones and fried those suckers up a la Carolyn Galizio. Namely, I salted & pressed them, then floured, egged, and breadcrumbed them. Lastly, I put them in a sassy hot pan with a bit of sassy hot olive oil from The Olive Scene in Rocky River. Heavenly!
As yet, frying them is the only thing I know to do with eggplants. But then again I know how to fry anything. Although Orlando swears that his people will dip anything into peanut oil and fry them to a golden brown, I hold that my people would find your sunglasses lying out and dip them in pancake batter and then fry them to a golden brown (cf. Indiana State Fair). But I wonder what else is to be done with my last aubergine.
From McGee’s On Food and Cooking in the section on Fruits Used as Vegetables:
(hang on, this is a long one, but indeed quite helpful.)
Eggplants, or Aubergines Eggplants are the only major vegetable in the nightshade family that came from the Old World. An early ancestor may have floated from Africa to India or Southeast Asia, where it was domesticated, and where small, bitter varieties are still appreciated as a condiment. Arab traders brought it to Spain and north Africa in the Middle Ages, and it was eaten in Italy in the 15th century, in France by the 18th. (The etymology of aubergine mirrors this history; it comes via Spanish and Arabic from the Sanskrit name.) Thanks to its tropical origins, the eggplant doesn’t keep well in the refrigerator; internal chilling damage leads to browning and off-flavors in a few days.
There are many varieties of eggpant, white- and orange- and purple-skinned, pea- and cucumber- and melon-sized, very mild and intensely bitter. Most market types are colored with purple anthocyanins, while a different species (S. aethiopicum) provides the orange carotenoid types. All eggplants have a spongy interior, with many tiny air pockets between cells. When cooked, the air pockets collapse and the flesh consolidates into a fine-textured mass, sometimes creamy (most Asian varieties) and sometimes meaty (most European varieties) depending on the varieity, maturity, and preparation. In baked casseroles–the Greek moussaka and Italian eggplant parmigiana–eggplant slices retain some structure; in Middle Eastern dip baba ghanoush, grilled pureed eggplant provides the smooth, melting body that carries the flavors of sesame paste, lemon juice, and garlic.
Eggplant’s spongy structure has two notable consequences for the cook. One is that eggplants shrink down to a relatively small volume when cooked. The other is that when fried, raw eggplant pieces soak up oil, leaving little on the pan for lubrication and making the vegetable very rich. In some preparations–such as the famous Turkish dish Imam bayaldi, “the priest fainted,” in which halved eggplants are stuffed and baked in copious olive oil–this richness is desired and maximized. Otherwise, the absorptiveness of eggplant can be reduced by collapsing its spongy structure before frying. This is accomplished by precooking it–microwaving works well–or by salting slices to draw out moisture from the cells and into the air pockets. Salting is often recommended as a way to remove the bitterness sometimes found in older eggplants grown in dry conditions, but it probably just reduces our perception of the alkaloids; the bulk of the cell fuids remains in the cells.
Well. There you have it. Don’t put them in the fridge, microwave them, and the priest fainted.