Friday, May 20, 2011

Eat Your Vegetables (or, Heather vs the Eggplant)

I eat a lot of vegetables. Vegetables are my favourite, followed closely by dairy (the fattier the better) and grains (the grainier the better), so it's not the amount of vegetables that's the problem - it's the variety. When G and I go grocery shopping, our produce basket always looks the same: peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, apples, and if they look good asparagus or greens (usually spinach, broccoli or occasionally swiss chard. Lettuce and a much wider fruit variety in the summer).

This is partially to do with the fact that this is what we ate growing up, and partially because this is what is on offer at our local grocery store. Now I regret not taking more advantage of the leafy bounty that was available to me in Toronto. Nova Scotia doesn't seem to demand the same variety, even in the urban centers. We're still a pretty meat-'n-potatoes lot, though things are slowly improving as growing immigrant communities and local-focused diets are catered to. Interesting new produce and spices are becoming staples (my parents have discovered curries) in many homes. I have high hopes.

Lately, I have tried to amp up the variety in the vegetables that we eat. I've been buying squash and sweet potatoes, which I know isn't a big deal to some of you people. I, however, have never had much love for either of these time-honoured orange staple foods. I found them overly sweet and inappropriate for the dinner table (there I said it).  This was not helped by the fact that my family always added ample brown sugar to squash dishes, which was gross. Not even my ubiquitous enormous pile of olives could combat that sweetness. And then one day this wonderful gem of wisdom was passed on to me: you don't have to add sugar to sweet vegetables. In FACT you can add things I love like salt and curry powder and cumin and cayenne and . . . . . my life was changed.

I bought kale and made a lovely (and SUPER garlicky) Garlic Mushrooms and Kale from Moskowitz' fabulous Appetite for Reduction. It was only my second attempt at preparing kale, and the first had pretty much been a disaster (so proclaimed by G). So this was good - another vegetable admitted into our rotation. Progress!

On a recent spin through the produce section I decided to take a much bigger plunge. I bought an eggplant. I have never actively enjoyed eggplant, to my knowledge. I'm sure I've eaten and enjoyed stealth eggplant, hidden ominous and ninja-like in some casserole or stew, but I find the whole concept of eggplant extremely unappealing: the weird purple colour, the mushiness I imagine inside, even the name 'eggplant' is extremely unappetizing. WHY could we not call it an aubergine? Aubergine sounds like something I might want to eat.

I have no idea how to choose an eggplant, and was immediately skeptical about the one I adopted from my local Superstore. It felt weirdly light, and there was a softness to it that did not alleviate my fear of squashy sliminess. I contemplated. I researched recipes. I stared the beastfruit down.


Please believe that this is a terrible picture of me. Please?

I bought the ingredients to make Eggplant Parmesan - working from the oft-proved theory that nothing smothered in cheese can be bad. And then I waited. Waited for the right time to tackle the eggplant. G was resistant. I welcomed his resistance, and ultimately proclaimed that we'd put it off too long and had to throw the thing out because, obviously it had gone bad (you remembered where I mentioned that I knew nothing of eggplants?). It went out with our green bin with the other scraps and only mild regret. Pretty anticlimactic, yes?

I am willing to give the aubergine another chance, really I am, in the name of the Project. Another time. In the future. Eventually.

In the meantime, I bought these:

*This was supposed to be a picture of delicious fiddleheads. I forgot to take a picture. Please refer back to 'I Suck at Blogging'.*

Fiddleheads! I haven't had fiddleheads in years, but I have fond memories in my imagination. Apparently G doesn't like them, but whatever. We. Will. Eat. These.

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