Watch: Why you should eat eggplant during COVID-19

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How many of us remember our first time?

I do.

It was at the NYC eatery, Sbarro’s (don’t judge me).

That day I did it Italian style, hot and steamy.

Since then I’ve done it in a few places including once in Rome, Italy and a bunch of times in Kumasi, Ghana.

The first time I ate eggplant I was surprised to see how a slice of this spongy vegetable could replace a chicken cutlet in the popular chicken parmigiana.

I’ve always looked at food differently as a chef. While my peers aspired to rule supreme in five-star restaurants around the world, I’ve been driven to use food to empower and sustain communities and I look for similarities and differences in the way various cultures interact with food.

This means remembering virgin culinary eggplant encounters in NYC and connecting them years later in West Africa when I was fed a delicious soup made with what Ghanaians call garden eggs.

So it came as no surprise then, that the abundance of eggplant in the Caribbean and in Jamaica, in particular, would represent an opportunity to bridge our fresh local produce with an international flair that could be accessible by all, regardless of status.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the disruption of food supply chains around the world. The sudden availability of foods such as eggplant could be the beginning of a food renaissance and shift in mindset to eat what we grow and grow what we eat.

Further, the chlorogenic acid in eggplants supports immunity through its antimicrobial and antiviral activities, which is very important in building resistance to viruses such as COVID-19 and for general health. Eggplants also help to suppress many of the risk factors for viruses, such as COVID-19. Eggplants contain antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties, provide cardiovascular benefits, improve digestion, help to control blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight and promote mental health. Eggplants are also excellent for skin and bone health.

“Di only egg mi know a di one wey mi crack and fry an nyam wid bread”.

Jamaicans are famous for having a rigid outlook when it comes to putting things we are not familiar with on the plate; I know this because I am one of those Jamaicans. However, if there is a food revolution brewing, the Caribbean should be at the forefront. Evolving, trendsetting, creating and inventing is what we do.

I get it, that rich purple colour and abnormal shape, make the eggplant mysterious and maybe even foreign. But as someone who raids international kitchens wearing my Jamaican flag, take my word for it, “Wha nuh kill yuh fatten yuh…..and sometime it delicious.”

Here are two ways that you can enjoy eggplant

Eggplant pizza

1 large eggplant
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup tomato sauce 
3/4 cup mozzarella or cheddar 
1/4 parsley

1. Pre-heat oven
2. Wash and slice eggplant in 1/2 inch thick rounds.
3. Grease baking tray with olive oil, place eggplant slices on baking tray, place 3 tsp of tomato sauce on each side. Place in oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until tomato sauce is absorbed into the eggplant.
4. Remove baking tray from oven, for each slice sprinkle cheese on top and parsley, place in oven for another 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese melted. Serve immediately

Eggplant and Saltfish  w/ mashed cassava 

1 whole eggplant
2 tomatoes thinly sliced 
1 small onion thinly sliced 
1/4 cup  sliced coloured sweet peppers 
1 cup minced salt fish 
1 tsp Pepper 
Garlic 3 gloves sliced
3 tablespoon olive oil 

1. Wash and slice eggplant in rounds, then cut rounds into quarters. 
2. Place skillet on medium heat, add olive to heated pan , when heated add slice onion, tomatoes, sweet peppers and garlic, until soft and onions are translucent.
3. Add eggplant to pan stir, allow to cook for 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.
4. Add salt fish to pan stir and allow to cook for 3 minutes. 
5. Remove from flame and turn off.

Cassava mash 
1lb cassava 
1/4 cup diced coloured sweet peppers 
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black or white pepper 

1. Peel, slice and wash cassava. 
2. Place slice cassava in pot with salt and water and place to cook. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.
3. Remove from pot and mash with butter until smooth add sweet peppers mix together and serve.

Tomato sauce
6 plummy tomato
2 small onions
4 cloves garlic
3 sprig thyme
1tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp vinegar 
1 stalk escallion 
1tsp olive oil

1. Wash all ingredients. 
2. Diced tomatoes, onions, escallion and garlic and set aside.
3.  Place sauce pot on stove add tsp of olive oil, add 3 sprig of thyme and allow the flavour to develop, remove thyme from oil when brown.
4. Add dice tomato, onion, garlic, escallion and allow to simmer. Add salt, pepper and vinegar mix and allow to simmer.

Cook time 35 min.


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