October 12 is a holiday in all of the Americas, down here it's called Día de la Raza, in the states it's generally considered to be Christopher Columbus Day, unless you grow up in San Francisco in which case you are taught that it's Indigenous Peoples' Day and Christopher Columbus was a murderer who cut peoples' wrists off if they didn't bring him their monthly quota of gold.
October 12 is also my brother's birthday, which is much less politically complicated. Happy birthday Max, may your year be filled with interesting conversation, home-cooked meals, good whiskey and better music. As Ruben Blades says, everyone spends their life looking for something, some people look for problems and some people look for solutions My brother tends to look for questions, which makes him a forever interesting and endlessly frustrating person to talk to. Love you chipmunk.
Max asked me for eggplant recipes the other day. I've always loved eggplant, though I know a lot of people have issues with it. This recipe, from Francis Lam, is one of those people who had eggplant issues, so take that as testimony of its effectiveness. They sell dried eggplant in health food stores here but I still haven't figured out why; I asked once and they told me that it was useful for when eggplant was expensive. The dried stuff was easily 4 times as expensive as the fresh stuff though, so I just sort of nodded my head and moved on with my life. Then I made this pasta, a bunch of times, and you should too.
adapted from Francis Lam
1 lb. eggplant
1/3 c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of the knife and peeled
pinch dried thyme or oregano (or a couple of sprigs fresh if you have it)
1 c. water (use vegetable stock if you have it)
1 bay leaf
8 sun dried tomatoes, chopped or snipped into bits with a scissors
small handful basil leaves, snipped with a scissors
freshly ground pepper
1 lb. dry pasta (spaghetti or linguini)
Slice the eggplant into 1/2 in. rounds and salt them. Stack the rounds back up and let them sit for at least 20 min. In a large skillet over low heat, heat the olive oil with the garlic. You want quite low heat really, you don't want the garlic to burn.
With a paper towel, dry off the eggplant and cut it into chunks. When you start to smell the garlic, throw in the eggplant and stir it around to coat it in the oil. Throw in your pinch of thyme and turn up the heat to med-high. Stir the eggplant every now and then, and when it's looking translucent add in the cup of water and the bay leaf. Let the mixture come to a boil and then turn the heat down to med-low. Cover your pan, leaving it open a crack and stirring once in awhile to keep it from sticking to the bottom.
While the eggplant mess cooks, bring a big pot of water to boil, salt it well, and cook your pasta.
When the eggplant has absorbed most of the liquid, mash it up with your spoon and remove the bay leaf. If it needs a bit of a lift add salt. Drain your pasta and toss it with the eggplant mush, then toss in the chopped basil and sun dried tomato.
Dash a bit of olive oil on top. Fresh pepper. Parmesan if you feel like it. Dinner. Yum.