Eggplant Parmigiana And Good Advice

It’s not every day that a visit to a shopping mall inspires someone to write about eggplant parmigiana and good advice. This is one of those days. Off we go.

I can’t begin to explain how or why, for many years, I stopped eating eggplant parmigiana, somehow forgetting that it is one of my favorite dishes. I hadn’t overindulged on eggplant parm, thus getting tired of it. And I hadn’t turned away from Italian cooking in general. God forbid! No, sometimes life takes weird, head-scratch-inducing turns, and my losing awareness of eggplant parm’s existence was one of them. This southern Italian mélange of fried eggplant, tomato sauce and melted cheeses, which had gone down my gullet numerous dozens of times during the 1960s through 1990s, became a stranger to me in the current century. Until September 15 that is, about 10 weeks ago, when eggplant parm vivaciously reentered my life. Hallelujah!

That night my wife Sandy and I were at a good restaurant a few miles from our suburban Philadelphia home. Marco Polo is its name and Italian cooking is part of its game. We have thrown business Marco Polo’s way for around 25 years. Scanning the menu I was awakened from my eggplant parmigiana amnesia, for it was as if a Roman god or goddess slapped me upside my head and then trained my eyes on one and only one listing on the menu. My mouth began to water almost uncontrollably. I became a sputtering, emotional mess. “I must have it! I must! I shall!” I nearly screamed.

Eggplant parmigiana at Marco Polo

And so I had it. And, man, was it superb. The eggplant was moist and tender, the tomato sauce as sweet as a sunny springtime day, and the cheeses very fine and, importantly, not overwhelming in amount.

Since that joyous occasion I’ve eaten eggplant parmigiana six more times, most recently on Saturday past (November 24), when Sandy and I once again dined at Marco Polo. I’m hooked on the stuff! For the remainder of my earthly stay I plan to keep it that way, in moderation. I could do a lot worse.

Okay, then. That’s the eggplant parm part of this story. Now it’s time for some good advice, and also for a valiant attempt to connect those two themes.

Once in a blue moon I head to the wondrous, three-level, enclosed shopping mall near my home. Usually, like most people, I go there to shop. But two or three times I’ve gone to try and find something or other to write about for this publication (click here to read one example). On November 24, seven hours before dining at Marco Polo, the latter was my intention. There was a pretty good chance, I figured, that the visit might prove to be journalistically fruitful.

Maybe an essay about frenzied shoppers and kiddies sitting on Santa’s lap should have been the result of my time at the mall. But, you know, that just ain’t me. Instead, my attention was drawn to a sign in Macy’s department store, the first place I investigated within the mall. The sign, a store directory, said “Find Your Way” in big letters across its top. “Holy shit!” I thought to myself. “That’s powerful advice. It’s important for people to find their way, their true path in life. Fulfillment will result if they do.”

Whoa, what had come over me? I’m not the philosophical sort. I’m in the middle section of the deep-thinking pool, at best. And it wasn’t ganja that brought out that unlikely response from me, seeing that I haven’t smoked weed in 30 years.

Whatever the reason, I then went on a quest to locate other examples of good advice in the mall. And indeed I found some. “Believe In The Wonder Of Giving” commanded another Macy’s sign. “Love Your Mother” (meaning both your female parent and Mother Nature) proclaimed a tee shirt in Bloomingdale’s department store.  “It’s Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood” smiled down upon the customers at Build-A-Bear Workshop. And the finest advice of all came from a poster at Sephora. “Be Kind. Be Open. Be Gracious” it urged. Needless to say, the poster also should have said “Be Helpful.”

Damn straight, I was on a roll!

The final emporium in which I met words of wisdom was a Hallmark store. A small box, meant to be hung on a wall or placed on a table or shelf, contained a message that I paused over: “Do More Of What Makes You Happy.” A pleasure-seeker to a sizeable degree, I could relate, because I took it to mean that we might as well boost our fun a lot while we can, seeing that the number of spins we make around the Sun are, shall we say, on the limited side.

But there’s a more expansive way to look at the message, as I decided the following day when it rose to the surface of my mind. There it joined with memories of my most recent Marco Polo meal and got me thinking. Eating eggplant parm is a fairly trivial endeavor, but it sure enough makes me happy. And when I’m happy, my frame of mind improves, increasing the volume of positive energy that I deliver to the world. In other words, increasing the frequency of my being kind, open, gracious and helpful to others. The uptick is on the minor side, no doubt. But considering the state of affairs on our planet, every little bit counts.

This isn’t just about me, me, me, though. If hundreds of millions of us followed the Hallmark store’s advice, the upticks might add up to something special. Hey, maybe the world would significantly change for the better. You never know. After all, those four adjectives  — kind, open, gracious, helpful — are where it’s at.

(Don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this article. Many thanks.)

(If you click on any photo, a larger image will open in a separate window.)

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92 thoughts on “Eggplant Parmigiana And Good Advice

  1. Lyn Douglas November 28, 2018 / 12:12 am

    Hear hear. Great idea. It is time that we all take a step back and start being kind and nice. It sure feels good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Candice November 28, 2018 / 12:34 am

    Great post! I’ll never look at advertisements in the same way again. What a great way to see past the commercialism to the philosophical. 👍🏼

    Liked by 2 people

  3. alison41 November 28, 2018 / 2:03 am

    Greetings, fellow eggplant fan! Here we call the purple wonder a Brinjal. But no matter. It tastes delicious, regardless of name. I’m not an Egg Parm fan, but I love love love brinjal cut into thin half-moon slices, dusted with chick-pea flour and seasoning, placed on a thickly oiled tray, and baked in the oven. Eaten hot – Divine! eaten cold as a snack – still divine! Long live the Brinjal. And, also, long live more thoughtful Festive Season sentiments.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Helen Devries November 28, 2018 / 2:14 am

    For me it is an aubergine…. best made into a turban with sweet pepper to line the dish with a tomato filling, and or cut into a fan, dusted with flour and fried in olive oil.
    You gave me a fresh insight on shopping malls… never thought of them as sources of blog material let alone sources of general inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 28, 2018 / 10:42 am

      Hello there. I think I’ve had a dish similar to the one that you describe. It’s getting close to lunchtime where I live, and you’re making me hungry!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Alyson November 28, 2018 / 3:02 am

    I love how you pick up on these kind of things, that surround us every day, record them on your phone (the colourful trucks) and bring them to our attention. Inspirational indeed and if those quotes have reminded you to indulge in one of your favourite dishes a little more, all the better.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gallivanta November 28, 2018 / 4:32 am

    I would say your earlier happy rediscovery of eggplant parmigiana at Marco Polo put you in the right frame of mind to look at the Mall through the eyes of an explorer eg an explorer like Marco Polo. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 28, 2018 / 10:47 am

      I wish! He went for big adventures. Me, I go for much smaller ones. Have a great rest of the week. I appreciate your stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. joyce hamilton November 28, 2018 / 7:50 am

    You are making me hungry…..l love eggplant parm !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 28, 2018 / 10:49 am

      You know, of the various restaurants where I had eggplant parm recently, Marco Polo made it the best. Some places use too much cheese. In others, the eggplant itself is on the dry side.

      Like

  8. Laurie Graves November 28, 2018 / 8:02 am

    Damn straight is right! As long as no one is harmed, do more of what makes you happy. And I’m with you all the way with eggplant parmigiana. Food of the gods!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Lynette d'Arty-Cross November 28, 2018 / 8:41 am

    Yes – excellent advice indeed. And some eggplant parm – I was going to say “yum!” but perhaps I should say “yarn!” 😉

    Like

      • Yeah, Another Blogger November 28, 2018 / 10:56 am

        Hi Lynette. I had to go to google to find out what that word means. I can’t recall ever seeing it before. Thanks for expanding my vocabulary!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. mariezhuikov November 28, 2018 / 9:02 am

    I’m glad you rediscovered your wonderous old food friend! And congratulations on combining your two themes!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 28, 2018 / 10:57 am

      Well, I guess I was stretching things a little, or maybe more than a little. But I sort of pulled it off, I think. Thanks for the visit, Marie. I’m always glad to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Cristina Crawford November 28, 2018 / 9:44 am

    There should be a “Love” button, instead of “Like” because I loved this read. It made me happy (not to mention contemplate upon Italian eggplant dishes. I’m half-Italian and love me a good dish of eggplant parmigiana with a healthy dollop of polenta on the side. Alas, I stopped cooking anything with eggplant when I got married because hubby isn’t fond of eggplant. During this time of year when people are often particularly frazzled (read: rude) exuding love and good cheer is the best food for the soul…well, along with eggplant parmigiana. In the words of Henry Ward Beecher: ” Blessed are the happiness makers; Blessed are they who know how to shine.” 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 28, 2018 / 10:59 am

      I like that quote a lot. It’s right on the money. Have an excellent day, Cristina. Be seeing you —

      Like

  12. chef mimi November 28, 2018 / 10:02 am

    I guess marketing folks are making attempts at not just selling more but being more “morally” inspiring with their products? As long as you still buy them of course.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Ann Coleman November 28, 2018 / 2:08 pm

    I love the way you wrote about your trip to the mall! But on a more serious note, yes, the world would be a better place if more of us took the time to do what makes us happy. The positive frame of mind that would result would make us kinder, more tolerant, etc. Even if those signs were just something for us to buy (as they always are at a mall), their message was a good one. Keep writing, Neil…..

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Robert Parker November 28, 2018 / 2:19 pm

    I always think “cheeseburger in paradise,” like the Jimmy Buffet song, but I’ll definitely cruise over from American Fast Food Heaven to Paradiso Italiano, for the eggplant parm. Marco Polo was the guy, at least in legend, who brought back noodles from the Orient and introduced the Wonders of Pasta to Italy, right?
    And here you went on a voyage to the wondrous land of Made in China, and came back with some genuine inspirational messages, I’d have never thought of a mall as inspiring, this essay bears the hallmark of an imaginative mind, pretty cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 28, 2018 / 4:07 pm

      Greetings, Robert. I once read the book that MP wrote, but I don’t remember a whole lot about it. He spent quite a few years in China in the second half of the 1200s, and was a very amazing guy — that much I recall.

      Like

  15. andrewcferguson November 28, 2018 / 2:52 pm

    For me, it’s aubergine, or in the Spanish, berenjena… I tried out a recipe for the first time recently which used aubergine/eggplant to make a lovely thick sauce – it was a tagine, which was meant to be made with lamb shanks but ended up being made with duck legs as the supermarket didn’t have the former! I always think I should use it more in cooking…

    And thanks for the pearls of wisdom! You’re a regular shopping mall savant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 28, 2018 / 4:10 pm

      I like the words “aubergine” and “berenjena” more than the word “eggplant.” They sound sophisticated!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. alhenry November 28, 2018 / 6:19 pm

    Whoa, Neil, you outdid yourself in this one, buddy. So many things (like in a mall) to observe. Where to start?

    Okay, “We have thrown business Marco Polo’s way for around 25 years.” This made me laugh. Looking for that free “appreciation” dinner for your longstanding patronage? Well, I hope they give it to you. Cheap at the price of advertising these days.

    As for your “awakening” in Macy’s: “Find your way.” Though you have not indulged in the sacred weed for decades, I just want to let you know that I live in one of two towns in Massachusetts with its own WEED STORE. Attempting to drive to the bus station to pick up my daughter for Turkey Day, I was waylaid by HUNDREDS of weed-seeking folks lined up around block after block, their cars making the roads impassable. Said folks, once parked, stood for hours in the cold, with a sub-zero wind temp, just to toke down. I’ll take a beer in a warm bar any day.

    “Do More Of What Makes You Happy” is a magnet my husband posted on the fridge. It is his mantra, his credo, and he lives by it. I’m the driven one in our house. If only I could find a way to fit 48 hours into 24 hours.

    As for Sephora and kindness, damn they tipped off my next blog post, skedded to drop December 1. Well, hell, it is the holidays. May your days be merry and bright.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 28, 2018 / 7:35 pm

      You know, two years ago I was in Amsterdam, where grass is legal. I came close to smoking some in one of the city’s so-called coffee shops. But I was afraid of how my mind and body would react, considering I hadn’t smoked any in many years. So, I didn’t indulge. But maybe one of these days . . .

      Your husband has the right idea. To tell you the truth, I think it takes a good amount of courage to up the amount of whatever it is that makes you happy.

      Looking forward to your next article!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. tanjabrittonwriter November 28, 2018 / 11:11 pm

    Hallelujah indeed, Neil. Who could have predicted the profound effects of the reversal of your amnesia?! More eggplant parm to you, and a better world to all of us!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Still the Lucky Few November 28, 2018 / 11:36 pm

    Keep spreading around that positive energy, Neil—according to the butterfly effect, you could be changing the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. greenpete58 November 29, 2018 / 8:15 am

    Indeed, a valiant attempt to connect eggplant parm with mall signage, and I applaud you for that. Keep ’em coming, Seinfeld!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Fictionophile November 29, 2018 / 11:04 am

    I really enjoyed reading this post Neil. The little things that make us happy have the domino effect on the rest of our life and the people whom surround us. Thanks for reminding me to be happy with my life – we all need reminders as we take so much for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 29, 2018 / 12:21 pm

      Hi Lynne. It’s true — many of us are quite fortunate in many ways, and we don’t always appreciate that. Thanks for adding your thoughts. Much appreciated, as always. See ya —

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Almost Iowa November 29, 2018 / 11:08 am

    Eggplant, huh? Not too sure about that. Something about eggplant arouses my deepest suspicions.

    “Believe In The Wonder Of Giving”

    Giving, huh? Not too sure about that either. Especially when it is a store wanting to sell you stuff instead of giving you stuff. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 29, 2018 / 12:19 pm

      Hi there. If you have any good Italian restaurants near you, you might want to give eggplant parm a try. When prepared properly, it’s terrific.

      Like

  22. C C Cedras November 29, 2018 / 11:56 am

    I miss eggplant parm, along with so many things that are touched with gluten … your photo made me salivate. This week, as my wee Fergus has been in hospital hooked to an IV and is going under the knife as I write this, he and I have been on the receiving end of sooo much kindness, generosity, helpfulness, compassion — I can affirm that it makes the world a far better place when all that is passing around. It’s the reason for the season, as they say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 29, 2018 / 12:13 pm

      C C, I hope that Fergus will be okay. From reading your articles, it’s clear to me that he’s a great dog.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. K E Garland November 29, 2018 / 4:26 pm

    I like how you brought that full circle Neil! Eggplant parm, inspirational quotes, they all go together.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. George November 29, 2018 / 4:54 pm

    The meaning of life in store hoarding and a pasta dish. Fantastic! Words of wisdom indeed. I wholeheartedly agree, and I have a sudden craving for eggplant (or aubergine as we know it on this side of the pond).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 30, 2018 / 10:23 am

      I’m ready for my next serving of eggplant parm. I think it will happen in the very near future.

      Like

  25. Ken Dowell November 30, 2018 / 2:48 pm

    Can’t focus on the advice. Can only think about the eggplant parmigiana.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. eden baylee November 30, 2018 / 2:53 pm

    Now you make me want eggplant parm. 😉 Going out for dinner tonight and look forward to ordering it. And agree we all need to do what makes us happy. There is too much sadness in the world, and I don’t want to add to it if at all possible.

    e

    Liked by 1 person

  27. sniderjerry November 30, 2018 / 7:21 pm

    Hello Neil, All the essays you write are great but this is my favorite.

    On my next night out, I’m going to order eggplant. Last week I ordered turtle soup – it took me two and a half days to finish the meal.

    And I’m all in favor of being kind and doing what makes one happy – you preach a great sermon.

    Peace and Love,

    Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 30, 2018 / 8:42 pm

      Hi Jerry. Please eat the eggplant parm faster than you did the turtle soup.
      Your pal,
      Neil

      Like

  28. selizabryangmailcom November 30, 2018 / 10:51 pm

    Yeah, I have eggplant parm. amnesia too! It must be a common affliction.

    Funny how eggplant parm. goes missing from our minds, but somehow Whoppers never do?

    And one step ahead of you (this week, at least) on the positive vibes suggestions (due to the last two weeks, as you know, of sciatica hell). I’m a new woman! Feeling the love, spreading the love.
    Thanks, Neil!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. tylerus December 1, 2018 / 12:07 pm

    Wow . . . you took me back. I used to love eggplant parm, too . . . and have forgotten I did. Mission for the week: find some [good] eggplant parm. I also love those positive messages, ones I/we often [sadly] miss. I’m putting on “new” glasses this week. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 1, 2018 / 2:41 pm

      It sounds as though you connected with this essay. As always, many thanks for your input, Tyler.

      Like

  30. jeanleesworld December 2, 2018 / 7:23 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever had eggplant parm. Sounds like I need to rectify that! Nice take on those signs. Being a mom of children constantly saying “CAn we buy that? Let’s get that! Can we pleeeeeeease buy that today?” I, um, don’t hit the mall much. A pity they don’t just have signs like this up all the time to encourage a little goodness akin to Miracle on 34th Street… (the original b/w, not that remake nonsense)….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 2, 2018 / 9:58 am

      Hi. Last night I had eggplant parm for the 8th time in 11 weeks. Maybe I’m overdoing it. There are worse things to be addicted to, though.
      I wouldn’t mind seeing the original 34th Street again. A wholesome, really nice movie.
      Many thanks for stopping by, Jean. Have a great upcoming week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld December 2, 2018 / 9:32 pm

        A great week to you as well! Yes, that original’s got such lovely character work in it. I’m reeeeally wondering where I can get some eggplant parm in wisconsin, now…

        Liked by 1 person

  31. cath December 3, 2018 / 7:26 am

    Nice links. You quite made my mouth water with that description. I love eggplant recipes, and good eating definitely leads me to reflect. Your philosophical journey made me smile, and think that maybe I need to look about me a little more carefully when I’m out shopping

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 3, 2018 / 12:22 pm

      Hi Cath. Glad you enjoyed this story. I’m not positive how true my points are, but I tend to think they’re pretty valid. Enjoy the week.
      Neil

      Liked by 1 person

      • cath December 3, 2018 / 12:25 pm

        Thanks I will, hope you have a good week, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  32. Annika Perry December 5, 2018 / 6:54 am

    Neil, an inspiring post from your mall outing … and who knew they offered such wisdom! I’m glad you were in a happy mood and took note of the messages around you. The eggplant (aubergine for us Europeans!) parmigiana sounds and looks delicious and as a vegetarian this tempts me! I’ll look out for it … or try finding a recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 5, 2018 / 9:18 am

      Hi Annika. There used to be a TV ad in the States that had these words: “Try it, you’ll like it!”

      Many thanks for stopping by. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 5, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      One of my friends has lived in South Philly all his life. He knows the restaurants there and in other parts of the city. I’ve been meaning to ask him where he thinks I should go to get good eggplant parm.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pjlazos December 6, 2018 / 6:12 am

        I lived there for 10 years! Dante and Luigi’s is awesome. Also Villa de Roma. Or you and Sandy can come over and I’ll make you some but I don’t fry my eggplant, I bake it. Heart-healthy that way!🤗

        Liked by 1 person

  33. viewfromoverthehill December 8, 2018 / 4:10 pm

    Eggplant Parm! Haven’t had it in years. Our book club will be at ‘Maria’s Taverna’, the local Italian palace, to celebrate the Holiday and New Year in early January. I fully intend to indulge into your choice Italian dish. Yum! I can taste it already. Cheers,

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Silver Screenings December 9, 2018 / 4:11 pm

    Who knew a trip to the mall would offer so much wonderful advice? The next time I’m in a mall, I’m going to look for those things too. Thank you in advance. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Paddy Tobin December 11, 2018 / 10:48 am

    We would call it Aubergine at this side of the Atlantic but would savour and enjoy it equally, a delicious recipe! Regarding these phrases which encourage us to be … whatever… I’m one of those grumpy old sods who regard them as blasted nuisances – though we could do worse than follow the exhortations! (but I wouldn’t admit to doing so myself!)

    Liked by 1 person

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