Eggplant, Oh Eggplant!

I was cooking eggplant parmesan today.

This is the first time ever that I’ve attempted cooking eggplant parmesan. It looked like a relatively easy recipe with something like six lines of instruction. Simple, right? Except, at the first line I began to panic:

“Peel eggplant and cut into 3/8 inch slices.”

3/8 inch?

Doesn’t that sound a bit…precise?

I know, cooking is just as much science and chemistry as it is art, but really…3/8 inch?

If the recipe had said ½ inch you’d figure “Eh, ½ inch give or take. I’ll let recollection be my guide. That looks to be about ½ inch riiiiiiiiggghhhht there.” CHOP!

½ inch, whole inch…they sound like suggestions, right? You never saw Julia Child sautéing with a slide rule in her hand. And that loud Cajun guy, whosit…Emeril. He just picks up handfuls of spices and throws it in the pan. BAM! He doesn’t say “ Now add 3.14159265 ounces of spicy stuff to your shrimp pie and stir at 37 strokes per minute.”

I can’t do precise. This is why you don’t want to hire me as the architect for your new house. Graph paper? Peh. A line here, a line there and presto! Your powder room toilet is now placed in the middle of the family room and isn’t that convenient during those hour-long HBO series without the commercial breaks?

Anyway, measuring eggplant into 3/8 inch slices may be okay when Frank Lloyd Wright is making dinner. What I need to find is a cookbook for the spatially and mathematically challenged. I need a cookbook for slacker-liberal-arts-major types.

I need The Poet’s Cookbook.

Eggplant Parmesan from The Poet’s Cookbook


  • 2 eggplants, broad and boastful in their purple magnificence!
  • Salt! Singing, crystalline jewels of the kitchen!
  • One can- of size and shape ready-made to fit the hand of Zeus - filled with whole peeled tomatoes, bloody stumps recollected from the fragile bodies of lesser gods
  • 1 clove garlic, that tiny heart of evil sprung up from Satan’s footprint, peeled and minced and set inside one's souls
  • Olive oil, enough to fill Dante’s shoes
  • Freshly ground black pepper in amounts which would cover the heads of four angels
  • Flour! Flour! Flour!
  • Fine dry breadcrumbs strewn across the counter. The muffins weep to see the slaughter.
  • 4 large eggs, beaten…somewhere…a chicken runs to find its head.
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese, the firm round weight of it reminds me of the Mutter Museum, we stood before the Secret Tumor of Grover Cleveland, the glass case between us and infamy, our tender amour sliced forever in morbid cross-section
  • Parmesan cheese…much…much…
  • Packed fresh basil leaves, parsley waits at the door and bids her love farewell.


  1. Cut eggplants into slices the thickness of 12 fairy wings. Arrange one layer in the bottom of a large colander and sprinkle evenly and generously with salt. Pray and weep with misunderstanding. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Weigh down the slices with a couple of plates and the first five stanzas of “Howl”. Let drain until the meaning becomes clear.

  2. Commingle and unite tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Fill two runcible spoons with salt and pepper. Besprinkle upon Italy’s holy trinity.

  3. Drain and press down upon eggplant with leaden hands and disposable towels. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine flour and breadcrumbs. Pray and weep with great sorrow, as Penelope once did. Pour beaten eggs into another wide shallow bowl. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat, and pour in enough olive oil to drown the small sorrows of sparrows in October. When oil is shimmering -as the ashen light of Venus - dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour mixture, then in the beaten egg, then through the mists of discontent. Working in batches, slide coated eggplant into hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Pray and weep for all that has been lost.

  4. Preheat oven to the inferno of Hell’s third circle. In the bottom of a glass baking dish large enough to hold Sylvia Plath’s last breath, spread some tomato sauce in the shape of her father’s black shoe. Top with eggplant slices. Top eggplant with mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with Parmesan and basil leaves and think of the snows of the Tyrol, though not pure or true. Close the oven door…close the oven door….

  5. Repeat and close the oven door…close the oven door....

  6. Bake until cheese has melted and the top is slightly brown and the woods have filled up with snow (about 30 minutes). Allow to rest at room temperature before serving. Pray and weep with gratitude and ancient gestures.


Anonymous said...

Just tell me one thing - where can I buy a runcible spoon?

Redneck Mommy said...

Then tell me another thing:

What the hell is a runcible spoon?

Damselfly said...

Beautiful! Cooking and poetry. When will the book be out on the shelves, hmm?

Michael Plank said...

The eggplant parm was molto delicioso. Stick to the same recipe.

Anonymous said...

Yeah...THAT's the kind of recipe I'd want to follow. Even if the outcome is awful, reading the recipe aloud sounds heavenly!

Mom101 said...

This is absolutely hilarious J! I'm laughing...and yet a bit envious. And I dont' even like eggplant.

You have to check out the mcSweeney's list: If poets wrote the names of breakfast cereals.

Anonymous said...

Given that I combine lactose intolerance with a love of parmesan cheese this article made me cry

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

"Praying and weeping with much sorrow." Yep, that pretty much sums me up while trying to cook.

After reading this I'll never look at eggplant parm the same way again. Specifically the tomato part.

Tricorum Satisdee said...

OutSTANDING. Yea, and lo I would sacrifice even my most treasured of dessert cookbooks for one mere askance glimpse of such a plethora of recipes written like that!
And runcible spoon? Ha! FABULOUS!

Anonymous said...

If you've read The Owl and the Pussycat, then you know what a runcible spoon is. In modern times, we call it a "spork".

The science of cooking is what even keeps me in the game. I'd probably get out the tape measure to follow a recipe like that.

Run ANC said...

Ha, ha! You had me at "broad and boastful in their purple magnificence!"...And the 3/8 of an inch is exactly why I can't cook.

Great post!

samalishy said...

I think I peed my pants.

Momma Star said...

I love you. Will you marry me?

anne said...

"The muffins weep to see the slaughter."

Ok, that one killed me.

If cooking is a science, I'm one of those scientists continuously testing the theories.

Debbie said...

I am officially prostate. wait. does that mean I'm the inner tail of a man's bum parts? I can never remember which is which. sigh.

I'll come in again.

I'm officially prostrate at your feet.

my entire length is stretched, um, at lenth, across the floor where you walk with the feet of angels.

and I have cake in my hand. proffered unto you. and I bought it. at a store. and the angels weep for me because I haven't the gumption to follow recipes. because there is no poet's cookbook for pastry lovers (although there may be a recipe for lovers of pasty; I can't be certain. can one ever?).

you dream girl, you.

Jor Jazzar said...

I think this is my favorite writing of yours, though, ashamedly, it's been a while since I'd read your blog. Truly dessert compared to other dishes.

KK said...

Everything was yummy about this post. So, when are you coming over to cook?


vasilisa said...

I've never been so excited about an eggplant before... Now I have to cook one!

JFK Loves Belarus said...

Hee! I loved this one. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

You are so totally onto something with that "poets cookbook" idea.

Anonymous said...

I think eggplants are the most beautiful things ever. But they taste like mush. Still, your recipe sounds delish!

karengreeners said...

I'm coming for dinner. I'll bring the nectar of the gods.

Jess Riley said...

No, will you marry ME?

Brilliant, Jozet. BRILLIANT.

I'm afraid to ask how long it took you to write this. Because if it was less than thirty minutes, I will weep uncontrollably.

Tuesday Girl said...

That made my day!

S.T. said...

What a sublimely delish post! I really think you should write an entire Poet's Cookbook. I guaran-damn-tee it would be a best seller!

"Let drain until the meaning becomes clear." Hee!

Guy Barry said...

Where do you get the runcible spoon?

Tracy Lynn said...

Dude, that's comedy gold.

Anonymous said...

Jozlet, I found your blog are very informative. I hope you don't mind I've bookmarked your blog for my future reference.

Cancer Type

Kristi said...

I found you throught the ROFL awards today. I added you to my blogroll effective immediately!

Anonymous said...

Sounds delicious. Will try out the recipe. Toner

Kristen said...

You are cracking me up this morning. I found you through the ROFL awards, and I'm so glad I did.

"The muffins weep to see the slaughter." I was hooked at that point.

Anonymous said...

You are a HOOT! That "last breath of Sylvia Plath" number still makes me giggle a little. WHY am I so morbid?

Fortune Cookies said...

I've made eggplant parm. many a time, but not once have I seen a recipe as fabulous as this! I followed the link from Derfwad, and am ever so glad I did!

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I was combing through your favorites and came across this one.

Great, great stuff. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This was the best recipe ever! (I know I'm a bit late with this comment...saw it in your side bar) Finally, a recipe I can understand!

Blog Ping