Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Soda-Pop King from LA / Eggplant Recipe

His second-generation mom n pop shop carries brands of bottled soda-pops to die for! Listen to the sound of the clinking glass bottles. Video courtesy of I muted the sound for the first few seconds so as not to listen to the shampoo commercial. I myself am partial to Stewart's Root Beer, esp. on the Ocean City Board Walk, fresh from the vat. Click here.

Herewith a few childhood memories. As kids growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, my mom did not allow us to drink pop, as we called it, in the house. Naturally I developed a ferocious appetite for the stuff, ubiquitous in neighbors' homes where I discovered the wonders of Squirt, a grapefruit-flavored soda,

My dad's business associates would send gifts at Christmas-time including huge boxes of bing cherries from Harry and David's in Medford, OR and a coffee soda like the one John Nese talks about in the video. We kept the coffee soda in the cool basement but no one, including me, liked it. Today I'm quite sure I'd feel differently.

What are your memories of your favorite drinks?

When my neighbor Charlie passed, I made a fruit bowl for the family with plump red bing cherries, among other things, and a bowl of pistachios. I also bought a large glass bottle of Acqua Panna water from Tuscany, shown in the video. Chilled, the water was disappointing, not enough bubbles, but I did use the bottle as a rolling pin to crush some pistachios for a superb eggplant dish I made for dinner. See below.


Our eggplant was barely visible in the garden. It was dragging along the ground, a dangerous place for, as we know, the bottom could well become rotten. The challenge was to pick it as soon as it was big enough to cook with, eggplant being one of the few veggies that's no good raw.

It sat on the kitchen table an entire day so I could have the pleasure of gazing at this beautifully shaped and colored fruit, shiny as a purple mirror. Finally I was ready to cook with it.

Having just seen the Julia Child movie, I was ready to experiment, which I do every time I make something. I pulled out my Joy of Cooking book (whose author makes a delightful appearance in the movie) and selected a do-able recipe.

Due to my own peculiar dietary regulations, I had to circumvent using the most popular of ingredients - tomatoes (ah, such sweet sorrow!) and full-fat cheese. Each of these ingredients has too much potassium which is bad for my failing kidneys. Not to worry! There are many delicious foods I CAN eat.

Slice half-inch rounds of eggplant slices and lay in a greased baking pan. Onto these you will put:

Fresh-squeezed lemon for flavor enhancement

Generous mound of grated onion, grated carrot (for color)

Crushed unsalted pistachios (to crush, put em in a pleastic ziplock bag and roll with rolling pin or reasonable facsimile such as the aforementioned glass water bottle)

Sprinkle nuts liberally over each slice of eggplant

Cover with cheese. In my case, I use low-sodium deli cheese slices.

Cover till oblivion with fresh basil.

Bake, covered, for 20 minutes.

Turn off oven and pick up Scott from the train. "Ruth, this is really impressive," he said. "It's so creamy just the way I like it."

We like to eat in bed while watching TV and moaning with delight. I had a tall glass of ice-cold water with lemon juice.


  1. Oh a yummy recipe for my very favorite food, which, alas, my hubby calls "dumpster food" as he detests eggplant.

    Leave it to you to reminisce about soda, or pop as you midwesterners say. I don't like soda at all but we had a soda man when I was growing up in Brooklyn, who delivered chocolate cream, vanilla cream and those awful flavors like celery tonic. Can't imagine how my family could afford something so non-essential in those days but it was one of our staples.

    Naturally, I didn't allow it for my kids and used to be called the worst mother in the world when I spilled any leftover from company refreshments straight down the drain. As in your family, most of mine drink the stuff now like it is going out of style. So much for restrictiing things for our kids' benefit. Doesn't much work.

    Anyway, always interesting posts and video and I was also so moved by and glad to receive your Compass Mag.

    Thanks for being you!

  2. thanks for taking the time to comment, iris! i was at the movies today w/my support group and stood ogling the bottled sodas and drinking them w/my eyes before walking empty-handed into the air-conditioned theater. just as the movie began - the excellent and realistic The hurt locker - someone snapped open a soda can.p-o-p