Eggplant has been looking and tasting good at the roadside stands this summer. Roasting brings out the slight sweetness of the vegetable and reduces the astringency of eggplant, which has the unfortunate honor of being in the top three of least liked veggies when I tally my client preferences. The others are brussels sprouts and lima beans, but I always figure that someday folks will have their epiphany and decide these are loved and enjoyed after all. One can always hope.
Foraging is in my blood. Growing up, my mom and I would tromp through woods in search of sassafras roots to make homemade root beer. Ancient, gnarly pear and apple trees yielded enough fruit for pies and for sharing with the local orphanage. My mother knew how to pick poke salad greens and cook them in a pot, but my city sensibilities have all but removed that earthy knowledge and now I buy my greens from markets. I do know a thing or two about wild blackberries, however, and when spring erupted with dozens of wild blackberry brambles in my yard, I figured my youthful foraging would be put to good use. Visions of blackberry cobbler like Mom made, topped with homemade vanilla ice cream, clouded my good judgment. Half the plants grew fruitless and the other half produced stumpy little bitter bobs that resembled blackberries in color only. This yard experiment failed. The brambles multiplied like rabbits and bedeviled my poor arms as I fitfully yanked and pulled. Next spring my plan is to dig and pull early before they win.