In honor of International Picnic Day, Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations is hosting a virtual picnic game. This means participating bloggers choose a letter of the alphabet, make something to bring to a picnic starting with that letter, and list all the letters/foods that come before. My letter is E, and I happily say,
“I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing:
A-Artichokes, steamed and dressed with mayonnaise
D-Dunkin’ Donuts with maple syrup and honey frosting
I’ve been feeling a bit underwhelmed with cooking lately, so I went back to the basics and looked for inspiration from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. After hovering over five different recipes, I decided on eggplant casserole with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and zucchini (a.k.a. ratatouille).
My decision was further solidified after watching Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations: Provence. At the end of this episode, Bourdain prepared a meal for his hosts featuring regional dishes and using authentic Provencal ingredients. One dish was his “ratatouille”, which the locals said was delicious but could not be called ratatouille. There were three reasons for this that I can tell (though I could be wrong). First, his veggies were chopped into bits as opposed to traditional slices and looked more like confetti salad. However, this seemed more aesthetic than problematic. Second, his veggies looked pretty crisp while ratatouille veggies become rather soft after an initial saute and then communal boil or bake. Finally, the beauty of ratatouille is that the flavors from the sauteed veggies meld together over time. It looked as if Bourdain’s mixed veggies had only been tossed together for a couple of minutes. However, I could be wrong on all counts, and the locals could have completely different reasons. Bottom line: Julia Child’s ratatouille that I made was extremely delicious. I allowed the eggplant casserole to rest overnight, and the flavors really came through the next day when I ate it for lunch with some sliced chicken breast. I hope everyone enjoys the eggplant casserole I brought for International Picnic Day!