Jennifer sitting on her Grandpa Andrew's lap. He was her hero; she was his vision of hope and possibility in America.
Every time I see an eggplant I think about my Grandpa Andrew. It’s probably because the best eggplants are like the best grandpas…round and plump. He had an amazing garden in his backyard in Hoboken, and would pick all the fresh herbs and vegetables when he cooked. Grandpa Andrew was my mom’s dad and he loved eggplant parmigiana, proclaiming no one could make the dish like a true Italian! (Spoken, of course, like a true Italian!) He came to live with us when he got cancer and my mother would make it any time he requested it. One time, was extra special. It was right before he passed away and he told me how happy he was that I was a "Yankee" or an American. He knew one day I would go college to make something of myself…something, he explained, he could not do because he had to leave school at age 13 to help care for his brothers and sister. I was only 10 years old at the time, but he told me how proud he was of me already and everything I would accomplish. He said his sacrifices—traveling on a boat from Italy to America when he was 9, learning English, working hard—were all worth it because I was American, and I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. He was my biggest fan. Every time I think of him, I think of how his sacrifices shape my accomplishments. Thanks Grandpa...This one’s for you! —Jennifer
1 eggplant (good size and ripe)
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Italian style breadcrumbs
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded, whatever you prefer
Gravy (Italian sauce) a la Rosie
Skin the eggplant and slice into round hearty slices
Pour the milk into a bowl and add the salt and pepper
Beat eggs into the milk
Fill frying pan with EVOO, enough that the slices will be halfway in the oil
Heat oil so it is hot and ready to go once slices of eggplant are prepped
Dip the eggplant slices into the milk/egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs, coating both sides
Fry slices until golden brown on both sides
Separate each layer of the fried eggplant with a paper towel to absorb the oil so they don’t get soggy
Let the eggplant cool.
Put some gravy in the bottom of a Pyrex pan. Put a layer eggplant in the pan, top with gravy and then top with cheese. Make as many layers as needed (extra cheese up top…yum)
Cook in oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.