This morning, an eggplant was sitting on the counter and I thought: I have to eat that eggplant right now, fried and drizzled with honey.
I first heard of eggplant with honey (and last heard of eggplant with honey) in Laurie Colwin’s classic essay “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant” in which she reminisces about cooking in her tiny New York City apartment when she was in her 20s. She only mentions the eggplant with honey in passing, but this oddly appetizing concept stuck with me. For twenty years that little craving remained latent and then this morning, out of the blue, demanded to be satisfied.
I found some recipes online -- eggplant with honey seems to be a Spanish dish -- and patched a few of them together to devise a simple, quick formula that worked beautifully. Here it is:
- Slice an eggplant thinly -- 1/8 inch is about right, though if some slices are thicker, that’s ok. It’s nice to have some fleshy pieces, too.
- Place eggplant in a bowl and cover with milk and a big pinch of salt.
- Let sit for 45 minutes or so then pat completely dry.
- Heat a thick layer of olive oil in a pan. You’re not deep frying but you’re not doing a delicate saute, either. I know some people don’t fry in olive oil anymore for health reasons, but the thought of frying the eggplant in any other oil felt wrong to me. Obviously, you should use any oil you like.
- When the oil is hot, dredge eggplant slices in flour and fry until pale gold and a little crispy on the outside, thoroughly tender on the inside.
- Drain on paper towels. Salt to taste. Drizzle generously with honey.
SO GOOD. The eggplant was substantial, creamy, salty, and exotically sweet from the honey. It was everything I'd hoped it would be. I raved about my eggplant and Mark said, “Maybe you should make me some.”
The only thing more shocking than Mark asking me to make him eggplant with honey was his reaction after eating a plateful: “Thank you. That was delicious!”
I’d think he was just saying that, but he never just says that.
So, fried eggplant with honey. That’s my first recommendation for the day. The second is to go see the movie Tangerine. I had to drag myself because I knew it was about pimps, johns, and a couple of transgender sex workers in Los Angeles too poor to buy anything but a single donut on Christmas Eve. Also, it was shot entirely on an iPhone. I couldn’t imagine how this was going to be much fun, but my imagination failed me. The movie is wildly fun, gorgeous, raucous, and touching. I didn’t want it to end. Owen loved it too. I wasn't going to mention that I took Owen because people might raise their eyebrows, but that is cowardly. I'm not ashamed that I took him, nor sorry.
My only complaint concerns a vomiting scene. I know I've whined about this before, but in every movie and TV show lately you can be sure someone is going to vomit loudly and realistically. Often, it's played for laughs, as in Spy and Dope, so I guess some people find it hilarious. I find it totally gross. The vomiting scene in Tangerine was the most graphic and disgusting I’ve seen to date and it went on for what seemed like five minutes. I later learned that the actor drank a lot of vodka before filming so he could really go the distance and what we’re seeing is actual vomiting.
Awesome. I hate this trend.
Other than that, Tangerine is perfect.