My mister is crazy about T.V shows, and he introduced me to Frasier a couple months ago. I can hardly say "introduced me" because I've known about it as long as I've been watching T.V. It was the show that played absolutely non-stop when I was a teenager. Every time I wanted to sneak an episode of Friends after dinner without my parents knowing (T.V was against the rules), Frasier was on. I found this more than annoying. I didn't understand the jokes! So I never appreciated the beauty of Frasier. But since I started episode 1. season 1., I understand what all the fuss was about.
I grew up thinking T.V was bad, forbidden, and basically evil. I was always trying to sneak programs and watch what all my friends were watching. My parents, especially my mom, seemed to think T.V was going to kill me, ruin my "angelic" thoughts, or "put ideas into my head." Well, there were certainly enough of those "ideas" in my "angelic" head, and I certainly managed to get into enough trouble without T.V, so I'm not sure what all the fuss was about. Turns out, Frasier is hilarious. Jean-baptiste and I watch it drinking chamomile tea and eating popcorn dusted with nutritional yeast. We kill ourselves laughing! This has been a good addition to my sometimes, over-serious life.
Frasier, the protagonist, is always learning. He always takes himself way too seriously, and often says or does the most ridiculous things, but in the end, he laughs at himself and learns. His family and friends help him see through his arrogance and pull him off his high horse. The beauty of this show is that everyone sees themselves in all the characters. I, like Frasier, take myself too seriously. This can be a good thing and a bad one; it comes from a strong desire to be excellent. But I can't be so excellent if I'm so worried about not being excellent. Sometimes I worry so much about being excellent, or not being excellent, I forget why I wanted to be excellent in the first place. It boils down to one question: What is this excellence anyway?
Excellence is making eggplant parmesan, listening to Revolver (the mono recording), and singing along at the top of my lungs. Excellence is a cappuccino with Jean-Baptiste at Olympico, our favourite café, with my legs on his lap, and his huge grin and bad jokes. Excellence is a slice of lemon cake topped with a spoonful of thick crème fraiche and a cup of tea. Excellence is riding my bicycle in the early fall wind to the market to buy a squash to make soup. Excellence is this. that. and the old man over there sitting on a bench chewing a cigar. Excellence is wandering around used CD stores, not buying anything, just looking, clad in a long wool coat, leather boots and a beret. It's simple people: whatever we have right now is excellent. And if you find yourself saying, no! This is not excellent! This is hell! Well, it's pretty excellent that you're alive and breathing and kicking. Life just goes in a circles anyways, from day to night, from night to day. So go stand on top of a mountain or by the sea and give this old life of ours a good, loud yell.
Or simply make a little dish for supper, light some candles, invite someone you love for dinner, and dig in.
Either way, it will all be excellent.
Adapted from Jamie's Italy
There are many ways to make eggplant parmesan and recipes may vary. The dish I make involves sliced, roasted eggplant layered with parmesan cheese and fresh tomato sauce. The following proportions can be adjusted to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 F
1 big eggplant
Slice the eggplant about half an inch thick and lay slightly overlapping in a roasting pan.
Brush the eggplant on one side with oil.
Put pan into oven and roast until soft and slightly brown. About 35-40 minutes.
2 cloves garlic
6-7 big tomatoes or a whole can of tomatoes
fresh/dried basil and oregano
a splash of balsamic vinegar
Make the sauce while the eggplant cooks.
Heat some olive oil in a pan. Chop the onion and saute it until soft. Chop the garlic or use a garlic press and add it to the onion, stirring so it doesn't burn.
Chop the tomatoes (I don't take the skin off or remove the seeds) and add them to the onion and garlic. Season with basil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer until the sauce is bubbling and juicy. About 30 minutes. Taste and add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
4 handfuls of bread crumbs
1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
Grate the parmesan cheese.
Pour 1 TBS of olive oil or melted butter into a bowl with the crumbs and mix around. This will keep them from burning in the oven.
Pour a bit of sauce into a small gratin or casserole dish (remember this is a dish for two). This will give the bottom layer of eggplant some moisture. Place the eggplant on the bottom of the dish side by side so there is little space between slices. Pour half the sauce on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Add the final layer of eggplant. Add the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Sprinkle on the crumbs.
Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 F until bubbling. About 30 minutes. Remove the foil and let the top brown under the boiler.
Serve with braised greens, some crusty bread, and cheese. This would also be a great accompaniment for fish or steak. Red wine, yes please.
Enjoy this life, this excellence.
Until next time,