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For a couple of years
30 in fact
we travelled to Italy for the Summer.
Two months, three months.

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The first reason was to escape the allergic pollens that
made breathing for Lothar impossible.
But hard on those heels followed Italian inspiration in every
form- be it history, sculpture, warm sunny beach weather,
marble mountains, fervently enthusiastic people,
chaos, creativity, weather so hot that the marble church steps
in the Piazza still offerred a warm seat after Midnight.

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And of course food.
I loved walking to the market or nearby fruit and vegetable store
(the name sounds like music „frutta e vedure“)
picking whatever looked most delicious.

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Once I tried imagining how Italians managed before Columbus
without tomatoes-
Tomato, zucchini, pepper, potato, melon, pumpkin, corn, chocolate.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbian_exchange
Of course they more than managed with their olives fish cheese
breads of every kind and chickpeas that have been around for
at least 5000 years.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickpea

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But with Marco Polo's and Columbus' help-
what an extravagent abundance!
Not to forget eggplant-aubergine-melanzane.
Until now I thought they came over with the other nightshades.
Here's a very recent article I found describing far east origins.
So Marco, not Christoph.

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https://www.thoughtco.com/eggplant-history-solanum-melongena-170820
There are the long shiny deep purple ones, slim streaky purple ones,
but my absolute favorites are the short fat bulbous ones
lilac colored almost completely white.

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I cut them into 1.5 inch slices, dip them in egg and breadcrumbs
and fry them in olive oil. Then, as an Italian friend often liked to
say –and now a little salt and pepper -buonissimo.

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The following are the short steps for creating delectable
eggplant parmigiano.
If you should ever need to a bribe an Italian for anything, than
success is assured with this dish in your pocket.

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Layer the fried slices between homemade tomato sauce and
grated parmigiano. Top with mozzarella and bake til it bubbles.
Serve with linguine, flat egg noodles, crusty bread, rice or potatoes.
One summer after polishing off a pot of eggplant Lothar asked
where I learned how to make it.

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I have gathered my collection of Italian recipes in divers ways,
from my Italian mother-in-law (first husband whose
grandmother's lasagne was better than mine),
a wonderful cookbook by Elizabeth David,
the magazine La Cucina, and eating with friends.

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The eggplant comes from my highschool friend Connie Pirone.
I hadn't heard from her in decades, so at Lothar's encouragement
I used the modern tools of our age and found someone in
Houston Texas who might be her.

s
I sent a postcard with snail mail and my email address and got a very happy response-“O you found me!“
Connie changed her name to Dawn.
I call her ConnieDawn.
She's doing all of the things I probably would have done had I stayed
in the States- healing, acupuncture, tai chi.
A soul mate. Yes we found each other
among the oceans of the world of possibilities.
Thanks for the melanzane ConnieDawn and for being my friend.

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