Melitzanosalata and visions of the future

posted in: Recipes, Snacks, Spreads and Dips | 3
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When I was in my 20’s, I had a vision of what my life would look like when I was older and things were easier. Back then, if we had enough money to get through the week, there was never enough time to get everything done. If we had time, it meant we had no money. I always supposed that we’d know we had made it when we had both at the same time.

One of my specific visions was of a blustery Sunday afternoon. Jim and I would be in a cafe with large windows, overlooking the water. We’d be staying warm with hot drinks, not saying much, just enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. I imagined that this place was somewhere in Galveston. In fact, I thought I was imagining Hill’s Seafood, a cafeteria-style restaurant on Galveston Bay with a second-story dining room. Having grown up on the Gulf Coast, hanging out at the beach on a chilly day was a luxury. It meant that you had all the time in the world and you got to enjoy the beach all by yourself, since it was winter.

Sometime in the 90’s, Hill’s Seafood was bought out by a chain restaurant. Then the building was destroyed in Hurricane Ike. We haven’t eaten seafood in years, anyway. I forgot about my vision of the future.

Jim and I took a trip to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary last year in August. It had been a ridiculously hot summer and we both wanted to travel somewhere where it was cool enough to enjoy the outdoors. Vancouver seemed perfect. I also reserved a couple of days at a little motel in Tofino, on Vancouver Island. The motel was full over the weekend, but I was able to get rooms for Sunday and Monday night.

Sunday we took the ferry to the island. It was rainy and cold. We hung out by the railing enjoying the scenery for as long as we could stand it, and then went inside to get warm. With coffee in my hands, I glanced out the windows high above the water…

And was hit with such a strong jolt of déjà vu that I almost fell over. This! This was it, what I had been imagining for so long. It’s such an amazing feeling to realize your dreams have just come true.

The rest of the trip was just as awe-inspiring. (Well, except for that first night in the worst hotel ever, but what’s a trip without a little something you can laugh about later?) On our anniversary itself, the day before we left, we ate a little Greek restaurant, where we had melitzanosalata for the first time. This is a roasted eggplant dip with numerous variations. Since the restaurant put mint and basil in theirs, I do too.

The boat slip behind Hill’s Seafood, Galveston, TX c. September 1987.
On the ferry to Vancouver Island, BC, August 2009.
View from the ferry to Vancouver Island, BC, August 2009.
View from our motel in Tofino, BC, August 2009.    
The pilings on which Hill’s Seafood stood, Gavleston, TX, January 2010.
Melitzanosalata

1 large eggplant, about 1 pound

1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 mint leaves, thinly sliced
10 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Heat oven to 400 F. Trim stem from eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Put eggplant cut-side down and roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool enough to be handled.

Remove skin from eggplant. Puree with remaining ingredients in a food processor. Serve with pita wedges, bread slices, or raw vegetables for dipping.

This goes out to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Janet of the taste space.

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3 Responses

  1. Lovely story and great new eggplant dish for me, thanks!

  2. beautiful story – congratulations on your dreams coming true!

  3. Congratz on celebrating 20 years with your hubby. :) And thank you for bringing this to WHB this week. I love roasted eggplant and pairing it with mint and basil sounds like a fabulous combination.

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