I have always been jealous of the eggplant
July 28, 2020 6:44 PM   Subscribe

"The flowers on my eggplants are getting full." Vivien Sansour, founder of The Palestine Heirloom Seed Library, ponders the eggplant, the aubergine—bitinjan (باذنجان).
posted by Ahmad Khani (11 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you, that was a bittersweet, poetic read.
posted by toastyk at 7:03 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]

Beautifully written.

There's a good reason why the Great Ottoman Dish, Imam Bayilde ("the imam fainted") uses eggplant as its primary ingredient......

don't read the comments on this article

Or on any other article. The Forward is a Progressive Jewish publication, and is known as such....and thus every article of substance is attacked by odious trolls who are invariably some combination of fascist, racist, sexist, anti-arab, fox-news-and-worse bile regurgitating wingnuts, .....most of whom it pains me to say, identify as Jews.

posted by lalochezia at 8:29 PM on July 28 [3 favorites]

posted by growabrain at 9:43 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]

Eh, sometimes a 🍆 is just a 🍆.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:04 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]

Very nice piece.

Soon after arriving in Nablus, Palestine in 2016 to teach 5th grade English, I was one of the chaperones on a field trip to Bethlehem and Battir, a village I had never heard of at that point. The first thing that strikes you is how gorgeous the town is, old stone buildings and terraced farm land stepping down the hill. I did not know why we were there exactly as we descended down a path to the valley, but I was enjoying walking in a beautiful place. Since I was a chaperone, I didn't notice until we were standing in front of two gleaming train tracks. After a few minutes, during which I remember distinctly noticing that 90s style chokers were apparently back in style (and remembering them being in style when I was in 5th grade), a modern light rail train became visible around the corner of a hill. The kids screamed in excitement and took pictures, laughing with each other. The train runs almost exactly on the 1949 armistice line.

Later, I hiked to the old Ottoman train station outside of Sebastia, a few miles from Nablus (the one in Nablus is now a modest grocery store). The old station is a beautiful ruin, and even has a few blue tiles in one room. Around it is a kind of ad hoc park, with a couple old bridges and a path that in the US would be called a Rail Trail.

The story of trains in the Middle East is a fable proving that history is not a constant march of progress. As has often been noted, it was not difficult at one time to travel from Istanbul to Damascus to little Sebastia, and then on to Haifa and Cairo. It must have been unthinkable to imagine a future where travel between these places would not only be difficult or filled with borders and papers, but so nonexistent as to be worthy of a field trip for resource strapped Palestinian schools. The children were thrilled precisely because of this element of fantasy: only a handful had ever been on a train, and perhaps even less will ever ride this new Israeli train outside Battir, just out of reach.
posted by Corduroy at 12:55 AM on July 29 [11 favorites]

Beautiful piece - food heritages and the histories of ingredients so often help to refocus human stories. In this particular case, the globetrotting is encoded right in their gamut of name(s)...

the Great Ottoman Dish, Imam Bayilde ("the imam fainted")

languagehat has some diligence on anti-clerical tropes in recipe-naming.
posted by progosk at 4:53 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]

Odes to the brinjal and baigan too!
posted by infini at 7:21 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]

That was a lovely morning read; thank you.
posted by heyho at 7:43 AM on July 29

That was beautiful, thank you.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:27 AM on July 29

Well, my hovercraft is full of eels.
posted by Windopaene at 3:06 PM on July 31

Thank you for sharing. I have an old photo of my granddad from the 70s - big straw hat and big broad smile - working his tobacco field under the baking sun. At the time the photo was taken, he was only allowed to leave his house to tend to his garden and had to return home before curfew. They grew their own food too of course and I now wonder how he felt about his aubergines and other crops. My grandma spread them all out on the kitchen table and processed them throughout her life. There'd be days of lemons everywhere, turned into lemon juice to be frozen so we'd always have supplies. An aubergine dish often baking in the oven. There'd be peppers to be pickled and olives to be crashed. There was always food prep and stories and (I realise now) we ate our history every day (this wasn't in Palestine but we weren't that far away). Which is a long-winded way to say thank you again.
posted by mkdirusername at 7:58 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

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