I think about magic carpets, and where they'd take me. I'd cross borders, for sure, and boundaries. I'd move from my comfort zone to my uncomfort zone. I'd go far.
To places that shock my system, with vistas so wide I could see peace, and eternity. Where people speak way too fast, in tongues I can't understand. I want to hear them chant.
Then they'll smile, and I'll smile back, and we'll all go eat eggplant.
Because in this vision, there's always eggplant. It's just there, on a cloth-covered table, a table so low it floats on the floor. There's eggplant with garlic, eggplant with yogurt, eggplant with pomegranate molasses and honey and sumac. There's other stuff, too -- a curvy pewter teapot, a cavernous bowl filled with bright, green pistachios.
Try one. They're warm.
Look out the window. The light's different here. It's pale orange, like a cantaloupe wrapped in gauze. Melon-light that makes the streets glow, that makes faces kind.
Close your eyes. Can you see it all? Are you with me?
Escape the black and white.
Move towards the color.
Grab your carpet.
Recipe for Eggplant with Coconut, Mint, and Pistachio
Eat these little disks like soft tacos. Just fold them gently and pop them in your mouth, one by one by one. If you have a mandoline, it makes slicing the eggplant into neat, thin slices very easy. If you don't have a mandoline, please don't sweat it. It hardly makes a difference.
Serves 8 (ish), with some coconut mint topping left over (store airtight)
1 globe eggplant of fairly uniform thickness, unpeeled, sliced between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup (unsweetened) desiccated coconut
1/2 cup unsalted pistachios
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with parchment or a silicone liner.
Drizzle the eggplant slices evenly on both sides with the olive oil, rubbing in with your fingers. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on your lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until nearly cooked through.
Meanwhile, make the topping. In a food processor, combine the coconut, pistachios, cardamom, mint, and a scant 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pulse about 10 times, or until finely ground.
Drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Flip the eggplant slices (if you feel like it) and sprinkle evenly with the topping. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the topping is lightly golden. Serve.