“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” This quote by Wayne Dyer perfectly describes my Sudoku prowess. After agonizing over one of the most difficult, I often walk away for a few minutes, come back, turn the puzzle upside down, and am able to finish it off. It also describes my latest eggplant strategy.
According to Roger Van Oech Renaissance kings turned to the fool when they needed inspriation to break from the traditional thinking of their advisors. The fool would take the problem or issue at hand and strip away the assumptions thereby making it appear anew or changing the way it looked. Van Oech’s example, if a man is sitting backwards on a horse, why do we assume that it’s the man who is backwards and not the horse? What would the fool say about autumn’s endless stream of eggplant into my home and my children who invoke their constitutional rights to stay away?
Hmmm. I so often treat the purplish meaty outcast as the focal point of our meal. What if that was to change? And what if, rather than baking it with sauces and cheese and traditional spices, it was altered and cooked alongside nuts and fruit? Stove top rather than oven?
Admittedly these concepts aren’t that foolish but they are a new way of working with eggplant and worthy of exploration. I turn to Mario Batali for Caponata.
- 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
- 1 large Spanish onion, diced
- 3 Tbs
- 3 Tbs currants (I used organic raisins)
- 1 Tbs hot chili flakes
- 2 medium eggplant, cubed to yield 4 cups
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 5 sprigs mint, chopped
In a large saute pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, pine nuts, raisins and chili flakes and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.
Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, garnish with mint and chili flakes. Serve the caponata spooned on crostini or favorite bread or crackers.
So where else might we look and find that our thinking is bound by tradition or habit? Are there other places in our lives where we might benefit by calling in the fool and throwing out our old thinking? I’m going to keep it in mind as I work and play this week.