January 20, 2005

EGGPLANTS LACED WITH SPICE AND DIAMONDS



Lotlot, our helper, said there was no fish available in the neighborhood flea market. I immediately scoured the weather in my mind and asked if the moon was full last night. I’ve had a lot of relations doing fish vending before. Most of them were uncles and older male cousins that in the past, I could hear them worrying so much that the moon was so illuminating in certain particular nights that there would be a slack of business for them during the week. “Masawa in Bulan”, one of them would say which is the Tausug words for “The moon in full”.

So I suggested to Lotlot to buy eggplants from a nearby sari-sari store so that we could dipped them in eggs and fry them in deep oil. I reckoned that she wasn’t used with this kind of meal that she did not cooked the vegetables the way that I have envisioned them. So I made her buy more eggplants and egg and made them by myself.

To cook this simple menu, one should need the following:

3 pieces Eggplants, fresh from the garden and shiny as a marble.

2 pieces Chicken eggs (from the healthiest of hens.)

1 teaspoon Salt, rock salt to be more tasty

1 quart Fresh coconut oil. If you have some olive oil then you must be
some sort of a rich man.

1 pinch Monosodium glutamate otherwise know as Vetsin.

1 pinch Pepper balls in small cellophane packages.

Wash your hands carefully before handling the eggplants for the germs is almost everywhere. Put the eggplants in a cauldron with an inch-deep tap water and make them boil. If you observe the scene of the eggplants within the water, you must be able to see that the eggplant are not fully immersed into the liquid, just the bottom half of them. In this manner, the vegetables would not turn into a soggy sponge, which would lessen the crispiness and taste.

While you boil the eggplants, bate the eggs in a glass bowl and put salt and vetsin. Bate them so hard like you haven’t got all the time in the world. A lesser purity of egg whites and yellow yolks would minimize the sweetness of eggs, like a woman scorned by her lover. Make the eggs feel good and treat them with all grace and respect, for they are the royalties of food. Without eggs, the way we cook our food would change forever, and never be the same again. Add the pepper into the mixture.

After a couple of minutes of the boiling of the water, take away the eggplants softly from the cauldron and make them rest into a wide plastic platter. With a smooth surfaced ladle, press the eggplants hard enough to make them flat as the ocean and then dipped them into the bated eggs and proceed immediately to paste them into a scorching oil in the pan. Do not overdo the dipping to evade the existence of burnt eggs which bitterness we do not need at this time. Remember, the eggplants are cooked much later than the eggs so be easy on the dipping.

After five minutes or so, the eggplants laced with spices and diamonds are ready to serve. I wasted no time in partaking of this heavenly meal and it took me three returns from the rice cauldron before I became satisfied. What a heavenly meal, what satisfaction.

When we were little, my mother use to cook this kind of meal especially when we run out of money in times when my father’s work as a postman before did not make ends meet in some days that are worse than the others. Because of these past lessons in life, I have learn to respect vegetables and the role they play in alleviating us when fish and meat are too costly at times to place on the dining table. Vegetables have become the heroes of those who are starving and those whose wealth is empty like a rusting tin can. We survive at times when we learn to realize that the things we must enjoy are at most times cheap. We always favor the much costlier foods and disregard the fact that with a little imagination, affordable foods brings us all much closer to ourselves. Fancy foods are sometimes pretentious although they are adorable to the palate. We eat French because the Joneses eat them too. Even in food, we become hypocrites.

VERSES OF THE DAY. John 6:31-40. “Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' " Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always." And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
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