28 September 2012

The Eggplant

When I was 8, I spent  a week at a cabin by the lake with my father. To entertain myself between intermittent fishing expeditions, I wrote an extra-curricular essay on the eggplant. It was entitled “Eggplants” and the opening line was: “The Eggplant is a vegetable of ancient origin.” In the period of two days I produced what I would like to imagine was an eight-page manuscript of genius, but what was more likely one page of hand-scrawled notes, plus an extra page of drawings that I did myself.
I have always been fascinated by the beauty of eggplants, but I would never, under any circumstances, be willing to commit the sin which must surely be associated with the destruction of such perfect and divine beauty--no level-headed individual would ever dream of stuffing da Vinci’s “Last Supper” down his or her gullet, no matter what the nutritional value may be, and even considering that this artistic abortion cannot come close to matching the natural perfection of the eggplant.  The eggplant, with its rich and royal violet colouring, its gently curving bulb, and its natural gloss, is and should be an object of admiration and not of consumption.

But don’t let this soft-spoken solanum trick you: the aubergine is not as it appears. The eggplant is an impostor and a traitor. It is an iron hand in a rich, beautiful, luxurious velvet glove. Inside, it is a sickly greenish-yellow, resembling the colour of unhealthy urine. It is full of tiny, soft, bitter seeds, on whose merit alone, the sneaky aubergine has managed to creep its way into the berry family, giving the unsuspecting eater a false sense of security and deliciousness. It has an unsavoury soft and mushy interior texture, which of course is indicative of its soft and mushy (read: deceitful) character. A more refined palate would be right to display this rotund beauty on the mantle rather than violently slicing it up to reveal the evil and treacherous creature within, this Judas of the vegetable kingdom.

But let us not discard of the eggplant entirely. Let us recognize and revel in its merits. Despite offending us with its interiority, it calms and soothes us with its exteriority. It is a celebration of creation, and pregnant with the divine perfection of God. Can one honestly gaze upon the bloated curvature of the eggplant and not see the Virgin Mary reflected in its glossy skin? The regal dressing and its calm demeanor? The modestly covered head and swollen abdomen? The eggplant deserves our reverence, not the destructive force of our bowels.

Why I Won't Eat It

  • the flesh has an unappealing texture and colour
  • I imagine it would either taste very bitter or have no taste at all
  • I rarely see an eggplant whose skin has not been bruised or scarred in someway

Possible Cooking Techniques

  • I think bite-sized portions of eggplant could probably be slipped into something like a minestrone soup without notice or cause for complaint.
  • any dish that prominently features eggplant or could not exist without an eggplant should be avoided at all costs

When you gaze upon the aubergine,
Remember its beauty goes no further than its shell
And within its skin the ghastly horrors dwell:
Those villainous seeds enmeshed in flesh of sickly green.

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