Dirty little secret: The Italian word for eggplant is often used as a racial slur. It’s terrible and intolerable, I admit, but on par with most of the shortcomings of my people. In the grand scheme of things, Italy is like Mississippi but with better food, architecture and music. Italians are, basically, the rednecks of Europe. Between the bunga bunga parties, monkey noises and bananas at soccer matches and, well, Mussolini, it’s almost embarrassing to call oneself Italian. But, here we are and here I am.
So, as a kid, I would ask my parents for mulignans because that’s what they were called in my house. Because melanzana is Italian for eggplant, but most of the dialects have turned it into mulignan (pronounced moo-ling-yan). And since eggplants are black and Italians are racist trash, well, get what you get.
Pickled eggplant was one of those delicacies tucked away on basement shelf and rarely, if ever, found in stores. To my knowledge, Cento is the only domestic company that makes a pickled eggplant for retail sale. And good luck finding it at a grocery store.
I opted for Japanese eggplant for this recipe because they are oblong and easier to cut into strips. Any shape or color will work fine here, since eggplant variations are only skin deep.
Again, I used a 1L sealed lockjar here.
By Jared Paventi
- 2 lbs. eggplant
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 2 tbsp. pickling salt
- 1/2 tsp. coriander seed
- 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
- 1 tsp. dried parsley
Wash your container in hot, sudsy water and rinse thoroughly.
Peel the eggplants and cut into short strips. Add to the container along with the garlic and set aside.
Combine the water and vinegar in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Add the remaining dry ingredients, stirring to make sure the salt dissolves. Boil 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from heat.
Ladle over the eggplant and let stand until it cools to room temperature. Lock or seal the container (I will tip the container upside down over a sink to make sure it doesn’t leak.) and transfer to a refrigerator. Let it stand for 1 to 2 weeks before opening.