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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, February 24

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Ingredient Mon Sep 03 2007

Vermilion Beauty

Nigerian EggplantsFor all my life, I thought eggplants were somewhere between white and purple. That was until I saw Nigerian eggplants at the Green City Market, under the spacious tent of the Nichols Farm. I walked up to a guy with a bunch of heritage apples (which are now starting to be in season) when a few baskets of bright vermilion somethings caught my eye. I asked him what they were, and his answer was that they were not tomatoes, not peppers--but eggplants. I couldn't resist the burst of color and picked them up.

Grilled Nigerian EggplantOnce home, I fondled the beauties. The flesh was firm against my fingers, and the skin seemed pretty thick. Following the farm stand guy's advice, I roasted them in the oven, which made the tough skin literally fall off the flesh with a little nudging. Inside, the eggplants had a beautiful greenish-yellow flesh. They were so juicy they almost flooded my cutting board.

We had them simply dressed with E.V. olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little bit of salt. The Nigerian eggplants--as the market guy had told me earlier--tasted a lot like Thai eggplants: their bitterness was much more pronounced than in other eggplants. It might have been better with something to go with that powerful, earthy bitterness, but the texture was outstanding. The creamy, melt-in-your-mouth flesh was a sheer delight. (They might have been on the vine a little too long, though--the seeds had become quite tough.)

It had been a while since I last visited the Green City Market, but it (once again) proved to be a fun place to be with lots of hidden surprises you wouldn't find in your neighborhood grocery. Seriously, who would think one would find eggplants from Nigeria in Chicago, were it not for the experimental farmers of the Market? Now I just have to find a traditional Nigerian recipe to fully enjoy the vermilion gems that seems so appropriate for the end of summer.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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