7.09.2012

Grilled Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley
...A Little Passenger Passed Through Our Lives...

TÜRKÇE İÇİN TIKLAYIN "Sarımsak ve Maydanozlu Patlıcan Dilimleri"
PER ITALIANO "Melanzane Grigliate con Aglio e Prezzemolo"




Eventually the day we had to let him go came before our eyes.
All happened so fast, we always knew that some day soon we had to free him but I guess we also chose to blind ourselves to this very fact.

We took him as 'he' but in fact never knew his real gender. It didn't matter anyway. 
It passed only one month since we met him. He was so tiny and defenseless when we found him, he couldn't even walk, he was unfledged. After we took him along with us he recovered pretty fast, fledged, started to walk, eat, chirp, fly and finally managed to fly without banging the things around.


It wasn't that easy to nurture him.
For one thing, he pooped all around while flying.
Besides, he got hungry very often so we needed someone to take care of him when we weren't home. 
He ate alive meal-worms which weren't very easy to find, we needed to visit several pet or hunter shops. When finally found, we couldn't buy in big amounts because they died after a short while and smelled real bad.
He needed to be handfed. This meant many physical contacts during a day. Contact meant familiarization.
In the beginning we didn't want to name him, it would bring desire for possession. To our eyes it would give him a personality and individuality, and we would end up getting very attached, as we knew we would keep him only for a short while. Even if his lot was called as House Martin, he was not a domestic bird but a migrant, belonging to the free sky, he had so much to see and learn. We called out to him as "Nerino" based on his colour, after a while, we found ourselves addressing him Nerino when we were asked of his name.


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Time flew. We got used to his presence and he got used to ours. He started landing on our heads after flying around the lounge. He seemed like he wanted to always stay close to us, around us, on our heads, in our hands. Whenever he heard us walking or talking he would call us longing to come near. Even though this precious interest and endless trust frightened us a lot (we were scared that he would get used to human-beings and forget about his own nature), on the other hand, it pleased us greatly by touching our souls. This might be considered as a selfish emotion, however it was so impossible to feel indifferent toward something so sweet which we had such close encounters with.




We once had 5 budgies which we adored so much (this is a whole different story) but he touched our hearts in a different way. I don't know if this is because of freshness of the emotions or a result of a constant physical contact, it seemed to me like we loved him differently.

From the day one, we were very intent and decisive to release him back into the nature. The only indecisive thing was when to do that. We said let's set him free when he starts flying. He started to fly. We said let him get better at it so that he wouldn't hit around. He got better. We said it is about time, but then it rained for a few days, we got worried, and so we postponed. At last we decided on the date to be Sunday August 5th. It was warm, conditions were favourable, he was ready, so did we, we thought so at least.

We had thought about where we should set him free. We agreed that the best place was the very same place where we found him. And why not, it was also very close to us.

On that same day, just before to releasing him, he whistled in a tune and a way we had never heard from him before. We interpreted it as he was trying to show that he was ready and bidding us farewell in his own way. We found ourselves attributing a romantic meaning even to his basic biological change.

I went down the stairs carrying him along. As usual he seemed silent, calm and peaceful in my hands. We stopped right at the spot that we found him. We were curious about his reaction. Aside from our balcony, this was the first time that he was out under the sun shining over him. He looked around, to the nests attached under the roof, flying birds, looked always high, always to the sky. But he didn't leave. I wanted him to look around, observe and see, I wanted the nature inside of him to wake up, so I waited. I was scared thinking two completely opposite things at the same time: "what if he doesn't ever want to go" and "what if he goes". He looked around, seemed like moving his wings preparing himself for a long flight but he didn't leave. Maybe he needed a light push to encourage him to spread his wings and fly. At home, sometimes he used to land on my head, I would grab him and throw him gently in the air so that he could train to fly some more. They are said to migrate to Africa, it's no joke. Judging from his size and vulnerability, this always worried me so I wanted him to be trained to fly the most possible.

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I gently threw him in the air. We had our plans ready in case he turned back. He didn't... He took the bend and got out of our sight. He flew so low that we thought we would find him right there at the bottom of the wall as soon as we turned the bend running. But we couldn't. He vanished into thin air.
   
Ste said that he saw a bird flying towards one of the nests under the roof of the next building and he pointed us at a bird attached himself not over the nest nor inside but just next to it. We thought this could be Nerino who was in search of a new home. We could never know for sure. We looked around for a long time and waited. We saw many house martins entering or coming out of the nests. We wished with all our hearts that they would accept our Nerino among them, teach him what we couldn't and protect him as we did. I cried... We discussed and argued great deal on how, when and where, but it all happened so fast. I couldn't understand what was happened. Just like they say in the saying... The bird has flown.

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The very same day, completely by coincidence, we were on our way to go to see an air show by Frecce Tricolori and again by chance it started playing...
"I believe I can fly... 
I believe I can touch the sky... 
I think about it night and day... 
Spread my wings and fly away"
I couldn't stop tears coming down my eyes. This was too much of a coincidence I thought.

Have a nice flight I whispered inside... Have a nice journey in life... 




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This is not much of a recipe to be honest, it is mostly a way of cooking let me say.
Did you ever try a similar recipe for your eggplants? You are losing a lot if you haven't tried it yet, in my humble opinion. Sure, it depends on one's palate.

I'd say if you use a good quality extra virgin olive oil you'd enhance the taste even more.


Ingredients:
750g large eggplants
20g parsley leaves
1-2 cloves of garlic (I used 2 small ones)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt

Preparation:

  • Cut eggplants into 1cm slices. Sprinkle with salt and keep aside for half an hour.


  • Wash eggplant slices under tap water, drain. Transfer them onto a clean tea towel. Wipe both sides with paper towel.
  • Chop parsley and garlic for 5 seconds on Speed 7.
  • Oil lightly a grill pan and warm it.
  • Cook both sides of eggplant slices over medium high heat. (I cooked each side for about 2-3 minutes. Adjust cooking time according to your eggplants. Try not to overcook them)


  • Transfer cooked slices into a container arranging them in a single layer.


  • Sprinkle with parsley-garlic mixture. Season with a little salt and drizzle with olive oil.


  • Continue to cook the remaining slices. Again arrange cooked slices in a single layer over the previous ones, sprinkle with parsley-garlic, salt and then drizzle with oil. 
  • Continue until all the eggplants are done.


  • When they are cooled at room temperature, close the lid of the container and place them in the fridge for a few hours. Serve them cold.

Enjoy...

You have many ways to use them up.
They can accompany to meat, chicken or fish dishes.
You use them to fill your sandwiches, pita, piadina or tortilla.
They are great also to add in the salads.



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