For years, we have dedicated our In the Kitchen With column almost exclusively to first-person stories. I thought it would be nice to bring in an additional focus this week with a short film by documentary filmmaker, Sara Washington. Her short captures the story behind Lauren Rose’s featured Stuffed Eggplant Recipe. Here we get to see the food through both Sara and Lauren’s lens. —Kristina
Why Sara chose Lauren Rose’s story to feature: Lauren and I both grew up in the same city of Stockton, CA. We both come from families that really value gathering together around food, and we both grew up watching our grandmothers in the kitchen, but the dishes that were on our tables were very different. My grandmother moved to Stockton from Texas, hers immigrated from Lebanon. I really liked the idea of this food portrait being of a food-obsessed Stocktonian by another.
Portrait by Rebecca Goldsmith.
More from Sara about telling food stories through film:
I love hearing people’s stories through food. I love hearing people’s stories, period, it’s why I am a documentary filmmaker. But when food is added to the equation, there are additional dimensions of texture, smell, sound, and taste that enhance my understanding of where they come from, and maybe what they aspire to be. When food and memory are married in these stories, it’s never just about the dish itself, but who they were with and what they were doing when they ate it.
When I think about places I’ve lived and experiences I have had, I remember them through the food I ate. I trace this back to the family I grew up in. I remember hearing my grandmother on the phone with her sister. They caught up only briefly on family news before their conversations turned to all of the foods they had recently prepared and eaten. They traded any new tips they had learned for old recipes, and critiqued the food at their most recent potlucks.
I don’t think you have to have been raised in a food-obsessed home like mine to be able to understand the language of dishes that define our lives when portrayed on film. And because food lends itself so well to sharing, when one person steps into the time machine that represents the taste and smells of their childhood, we all get to go with them.
Stuffed Summer Eggplant
– 1 large classic eggplant
– 1 large yellow onion
– 2 garlic cloves
– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– Salt and pepper to taste
– ½ pound ground beef (20% fat)
– ½ pound ground lamb
– 1 tablespoon cayenne
– 1 teaspoon cumin
– 1 teaspoon sumac
– ¼ cup pine nuts
– 6-8 small Indian eggplants
– Pulp of 1 large classic eggplant (see above)
– 1 garlic clove
– ½ cup tahini
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 ½ cup Greek yogurt
– Juice from half a lemon
– 1 bunch of fresh mint, chopped
– Salt to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Puncture the skin of the large classic eggplant several times with a sharp knife. Bake for 1 hour or until the exterior is soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Dice the yellow onion and mince the garlic and cook in a saucepan over medium heat with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste, and continue cooking until the onions are caramelized. Add the beef, lamb, cayenne, cumin, sumac and pine nuts and cook until the meat is done. Salt and pepper again to taste. Set saucepan aside to cool.
Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Cut a large “X” into the skin of the small Indian eggplants. Roast them on medium heat in an oven-proof saucepan until they are soft. Open the eggplants at the “X” and stuff the meat and onion mixture inside each eggplant. Cover and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover, and set aside.
To make the Baba Ghanoush –– Slice the cooked large classic eggplant open lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out the pulp and dice it finely. In a medium bowl, add the garlic clove and a teaspoon of salt and mince the mixture. Add eggplant pulp and ½ cup tahini and mix well.
To make the Yogurt sauce –– In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice and salt.
To assemble your platter –– Spread the baba ghanoush on a small platter. Stagger the stuffed mini Indian eggplants on top of the baba ghanoush. Drizzle yogurt sauce over them and sprinkle with chopped fresh mint.
About Sara: Sara was raised in a really big family in California’s Central Valley, the oldest of six children. She earned her undergraduate degree from UC Santa Cruz and her graduate degree from The New School. Both degrees are in documentary media. To see a drink-related feature by Sara from our archives, featuring Crystal Sykes, click here. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram, and see a three-minute interview with her here.
About Lauren: Lauren Rose is a private chef, sommelier, and cheesemonger based in Northern California who enjoys creating unique dishes and wine pairings. Find out how to join her next EatWith pop-up dinner here, follow her on Instagram here, and find her on Twitter here.