The queen of the summer is without any doubt the eggplant parmigiana, an ancient dish whose origin is disputed between Sicily, Naples and Parma, one because the presence of the aubergine (melanzana), one for mozzarella cheese and the other?
The aubergine comes to us from the Arabs who from Asia have made it a staple ingredient and one of the emblems of Mediterranean cuisine from the eighteenth century onwards. Basil, aubergines, tomatoes, oil and cheese … perfumes and colors reminiscent of the Mediterranean, in Turkey and Greece there is a similar dish made instead with pecorino cheese, called Moussaka.
But it is not such an ancient recipe: we remember that the tomato comes to us from the new world after the discovery of the Americas and we come to the conclusion that for a long time people did not eat the aubergines considering them to be harmful for ones health.
This dish has about a couple of centuries, well worn I would say if it is still in the dreams and tastes of millions of people. A young man!
And what does Parma have to do with it?
Let’s go by order: those who say that the dish comes from Sicily refer to the Sicilian word ‘Parmiciana’ which indicates the thin horizontal wooden sticks of the Persian window which, in turn, recall the layers of the eggplant parmigiana. And even calling this dish ‘eggplant parmigiana’ instead of ‘parmigiana eggplant’ reinforces this assumption. Initially in the recipe pecorino was used as in the Turkish and Greek versions.
According to the Neapolitans, however, the eggplant parmigiana is a Neapolitan dish because it was described earlier in the cookery text ‘Il cuoco galante’ by Vincenzo Corrado at the end of the eighteenth century then, also told in 1837 by Ippolito Cavalcanti in the book ‘Casareccia cooking in Neapolitan dialect . In this text the word parmigiana indicates the Parma cheese.
For the Parmigiani there is no story since the word “Parmigiana” indicates their cheese (Parmigiano)!
But now let’s look at a lighter version of the aubergine parmigiana that best suits the lifestyle we now have in our bustling world. A different idea: it’s always fun to play with tradition.
Make a sauce of fresh tomatoes and basil.
Fry (grilling eggplant is heresy!) the aubergines and drain them on absorbent paper. Then add the aubergines, mozzarella and fresh tomatoes stacking them up to build layers. Put your Parmigiana in the oven for a few minutes: just enough time for the mozzarella to melt on top.
In Rome there is a kind of crunchy pizza that in dialect is called the ‘scrocchia’ (cricket) because of its crunchiness. Put the aubergines on the pizza as soon as they come out of the oven and sprinkle them with tomato sauce
Let’s drink a strong wine. A red, a Nero Buono, an ancient grape from the Monti Lepini is also good. Even drinking it a little cold is not a crime, and Marco Carpineti is an excellent producer of the Nero Buono.