Learning to Love Eggplant

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 1942

“Food is Going to Play a Large Part in Winning the War” stated a Tribune  headline today. A day earlier, Food Columnist Mary Meade made a valiant try to love eggplant. What with wartime shortages and rationing, she wanted to help her readers present main course vegetable dishes as an alternative to meat. But proclaiming “Dressed Up Eggplant is Delicious Food,” she damned with faint praise the vegetable “so bland that one is likely to consider it without character unless it is served in a piquant sauce or in some other interesting way.” One way to serve “bland” eggplant was to fry slices and place the slices in a casserole with tomato sauce. Or you could make Eggplant De Luxe, a kind of “sandwich” of browned eggplant slices seasoned with powdered marjoram and rosemary and layered with sour cream, slices tomato, and cooked spinach. It wasn’t quite the commitment Admiral Hatch (See Oct. 3 post) had been looking for but it was a start.

There was no mention of Eggplant Parmesan so I wonder where my mother learned to make it.  Here is her recipe, complete with powdered seasonings — none of which would pass muster today:

  • two small, smooth-skinned eggplants
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Jar of tomato sauce
  • garlic powder, Italian seasonings mix
  • one egg
  • milk
  • Flour
  • Corn oil
  • Paper towels for draining, oven-proof casserole dish
  1. Wipe eggplants clean, slice thinly
  2. Dip slices first in egg beaten with milk (you can add water too), then in flour seasoned with garlic powder and Italian seasonings.
  3. Saute til golden and crisp on the outside, drain on paper towels
  4. In the oven-proof casserole dish, layer sauteed slices with tomato sauce ending with a layer of sauce
  5. Top with sliced mozzarella. Can be refrigerated or even frozen at this point if wrapped and sealed.
  6. Bake at 350′ until casserole is hot throughout and cheese is bubbly.

Buon appetito!

This entry was posted in Chicago during WW II, Jewish life in America during WW II, Uncategorized, World War II and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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