The love child of Middle Eastern shakshuka and good old Italian fat-bomb, Eggplant Parm. But healthier, obvs. PS This MUST be served with garlic bread.
What is your first proper food memory? Mine is not the vague memory of being fed by my mother from a melamine plate decorated with fairytale mushrooms and fairies. Nor is it when I theatrically upended a full bowl of spaghetti onto my head. In a restaurant (I had wanted mashed potatoes). My first real food memory is from my grandparent’s garden.
I remember it deeply – almost viscerally – because of the smell: damp red earth steaming in the sudden sun after a rain shower. I must have been about two or three, and we had gone into the orderly mid-summer garden, with its even rows of towering, waving sweetcorn, sprawling scrolls of watermelon vines and squashes, climbing beans of purple, green and cream, to pluck just-ripe tomatoes for our dinner.
My Mimi taught me not to yank the warm, slightly prickly fruit from the plant, but to pinch above where it joins the vine so as to bring the aroma of the plant into the house. I learned from an early age that the aroma that we all love about tomatoes – the earthy, herbaceous, raw green notes prized as a scent in perfume making – is from the stem itself. The humble stem. I learned by her side that tomatoes are best just picked and eaten sliced with a dime store knife, served on a plain china plate, adorned with only a pinch of salt. Later, much later, I elaborated this to a dribble of best olive oil. I think she might have used olive oil for earaches only. This was in Tennessee, after all. Continue Reading