Monday, July 18, 2011
Let the Smackdown Preparations Begin!
I don’t think I’ve ever written about how I adopted my online name. It hearkens back to making eggplant parmesan for friends one Sunday night in college. It’s a dish I learned to make in Colorado at the elbow of my buddy Derf, who had learned it at the elbows of Italian grandmas in his native Bronx, although he was Jewish.
My college friends were curious as I set about prep for our feast. I explained there was no set recipe, that I had picked up Derf’s techniques and preferred ingredients for making Italian red sauce by watching him make lasagna, eggplant parm, and other variations on the theme many times.
So you’re making “intuitive eggplant,” observed Laura, one of the friends I’d invited that evening.
Making sauce the way Derf taught me takes a good while, and Laura had to leave to host her show on our low-powered college radio station before dinner was ready to eat. As the rest of us finally sat down to the table, listening to her show, this Michael Franks song came across the airwaves. That evening remains a fond memory. And the song describes how I cook now even more than it did then.
When I settled on eggplant as the theme for this month’s revival of the Culinary Smackdown, it was intended partly tongue-in-cheek, but also invoked for me the idea of welcoming you to a contest that would be a something of a virtual dinner party. To those of you who are allergic to aubergine, or just plain don’t like it, I apologize. But you are welcome to participate in any way you choose, and I know there is plenty of creativity in this crowd.
After a rainy spring that has slowed the local growing season, I’ve had second thoughts about this ingredient too. Cindie and I went to three farmers markets Saturday. While the first (Lunken) actually had local corn (and a line for it - at $6/dozen!), I managed to find only these two small eggplants.
At our second stop (the Bellevue farmers market in the Party Source parking lot), I found only one.
Our plans are in place and I'll be back next weekend with Team Eggplant's entries. Meanwhile, Grumpy Granny - who helped kick-start this revival of the Culinary Smackdown - already has her first entry up, and she is sounding ready to throw down!
xoxo, eggy - and thanks to all of you who have given me this second nickname (because "Intuitive Eggplant" sounds a might pretentious, don't it?)