Did you know that in early European cultures eggplants were thought to exhibit a bitter disposition? “… eggplant held the undeserved and inauspicious reputation of being able to cause insanity, leprosy and cancer.” Come on, give the poor aubergines a break. Two memories come to mind when thinking eggplant: 1) the first time I ever tasted eggplant parmesan prepared by a friend at a hostel in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and 2) the first time I ever tried to cook eggplant. Both memories are on completely different sides of the good/bad spectrum. The gooey cheesy amazingness of a home-cooked meal after months of traveling versus not knowing that salting eggplant was a thing. “Erin, I’m sorry, but this eggplant tastes really bad, let’s go get pizza?” Oops…
If you’ve noticed the absence of blog posts since last week it’s because of these damn eggplants. You could say I’ve been experiencing a bit of “pickler’s block”. For the year and half before moving to Durham I had what one may call a “pickle muse”- I’d bounce flavor ideas off of them, which typically led to the utmost encouragement to keep things weird. Speaking of weird: this recipe. I had complete intentions of going for a similar recipe to the one I posted last September, but then I spotted the keywords Sriracha & eggplant over at the Local Kitchen Blog. Bam! Can’t pass up a Sriracha inspired recipe. This brine is so good that I reserved the extras to use in savory cocktails. Last but not least, the beautiful fairy tail eggplants featured in this recipe were acquired from Fickle Creek Farm located in Effland, NC.
Starting next Monday (whoa.. how the heck is it September already?), I am starting a 3 week cleanse comprised of different weekly steps. The first step involves consumption of massive amounts of veggies and fruits. While looking at the cleanse “guidelines” last night, I was a little surprised to see that eggplants were advised against and that my plan to live solely off of baked eggplant chips had been foiled… Why!?! Together with tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes, eggplants are akin in that they are all nightshades. Nightshades are a family of flowering plants that are often rich in alkaloids and can be not only mildly toxic to a fair number of people, but when eaten in excess are thought to have suppressing effects on digestion. Eggplant elimination from the diet during a cleanses makes a bit more sense seeing that detox regiments are typically not about sluggish foods and slowing down ones metabolism.
While perusing the local Saturday market, I came across loads of eggplant (I can’t remember the name of the farm for the life of me…) including but not limited to some purple, Asian, Fairytale, and Green Apple varieties. I picked up a mixed variety (mostly Green Apple) with plans of re-creating Marissa’s (Food in Jars) pickled eggplant recipe. The only thing I changed from the original recipe was apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. Oddly enough, and I’m not sure why, these pickled eggplant rings exhibited an oily flavor. The texture is a bit mushy for straight out of the jar pickle eatin’, but I imagine these basil pickled eggplant rings would go great atop pizza, pasta, and salads. “I really like putting up things that are pretty.” and let me tell ya, these eggplant pickles turned out über pretty. Enjoy, and have a great Labor Day weekend!