Whenever I see Eggplant Parmigiana served in a restaurant/pizzeria/sandwich place I never really come away impressed. When I was younger I would always watch my father the night before a big family dinner. He would slice the eggplants with great precision and layer them on a tray and add copious amounts of salt to withdraw the excess moisture. It looked kind of strange to me as a kid, but to this day I still have that exact recollection of watching him do this. If you have cooked eggplants before you might not realize that they are very spongy and they tend to absorb oil. Drawing the moisture from them, allows you to obtain better texture, and it also removes some of the slight bitterness from the seeds within the eggplant. These steps might seem to be overlooked or ignored when cooking in mass quantity, but they are crucial to achieving a great end result. The beauty of cooking is that all the little things done to perfection will yield something that is truly rewarding in flavor, texture, and fulfilment. Like all the instruments working to create perfect harmony in an orchestra, all the components and ingredients that makeup a dish will shine through if you pay attention to each element. I feel that I can taste this whenever I eat at certain places in and around the city. It's not a matter of being a food snob, but more appropriately being able to taste the passion, history, and craft of any recipe.
What I love about this dish is the emphasis on the eggplant without masking the texture by adding flour or egg before frying them. The natural flavor shines through and it doesn't alter the texture. I've had eggplants that were fried in egg or flour or a combination of both flour/egg/breadcrumb, and while this can be great, I tend to lean towards a more genuine style of cooking with eggplant. Most eggplant parm that I eat is usually served in casserole form, it tends to be compact, messy, and overloaded with sauce/cheese. What you see above is something that has balance in flavor and texture. Not too much cheese, just enough to ooze out, small dollops of fresh light marinara, torn basil leaves, and aged provolone for some salty kick. This is great to eat warm, but for the perfect experience, let this come to room temperature and it wil be even more delicious as the flavors marry. Make sure you have bread on hand, because if you don't, it would be a dam shame if you don't mop up the extra sauce spills. I hope that this post will inspire people to notice the love that goes into a dish along with the foundation and nostaligia that recipes have behind them.