Now I ask you, could you bring yourself to eat something so surpassingly gorgeous? It was tough. And yet, an eggplant is nothing if not food. Left to its own devices it will simply ripen, wither, and reseed itself. Which, when you come to think of it, is about all we ourselves do, so who am I to minimize the intrinsic worthiness of that cycle?
We do have to eat, however, so in terms of something edible, wouldn’t you say that these beauties are the Essence of Eggplant, the Summit of Stripeyness, the Acme of Appetizability? Me too, and I enjoyed every bite. But since my preferred eggplant cookery trick is to simply roast them whole in a hot oven, then toss the meltingly tender flesh into various other concoctions, they were all too quickly reduced from their flamboyant good looks to a drab ordinariness. And actually, now that you mention it, that’s pretty much what happens to us as well, so perhaps I Am The Eggplant, You Are The Eggplant, and so on. Or maybe not.
Perhaps it would be better to be an amande. Although normally an amande is an almond, in this case it’s a mysterious shellfish that looks to be closely related to a clam. I couldn’t resist these today when I saw them for the first time at, of all places, the supermarket. I asked the fish seller how to cook them. “Oh no, Madame, you must eat them raw.” Since they’re actually quite huge I let it be known that I was having a hard time imagining how to swallow one. “Oh no, Madame, you must bite it.” And since the very thought of biting into huge raw unknown denizens of the shoreline must have turned me a bit pale, he said to me quietly “il sonts très particuliers.”
Now, particulier is a polite way to say peculiar, or weird, or even beyond the pale, when applied to a person. It’s said knowingly, with a little shrug or wink, but not entirely disparagingly, as if to say that he, she, or it is an acquired taste. Possibly one that’s very hard to acquire. So naturally, ever up for a culinary challenge, I had to acquire a few amandes, take them home with me, and bite them.
Uh oh. Does this inspire you to open wide? In the interest of science, as well as maintaining my self-respect, I took a deep breath and while no one was watching I bit the middle right out of that amande, and yes, it was good. Crunchy, briny, vivid. So I bravely attacked the side parts, which were oh my god spit me out right now. And so I did. But there was still one left and it was very pretty, so pretty that I wanted to take a picture of it for you.
Only for some reason every shot was out of focus, no matter how hard I twirled my magic dials. And finally I came to the crashing realization that oh my god the thing was moving, trying to get away from the light and my sharp teeth, right down into the safety of its shell. Just as we do when life tries to bite us off and spit us out.
And I suddenly remembered why I was once a vegetarian for nine long years, and I felt better about despoiling an exquisite eggplant than I ever have before, and no, I did not eat that last amande. Not on your life.