Fried eggplant

 

Eat your vegetables. How many times has that phrase been overused? Both as a voice in your head reminding you to be healthy and as the nagging refrain that so many children try to ignore. Thankfully, I think we’ve reached a point where “our vegetables” are no longer snoozers such as steamed broccoli or carrot sticks, and they can even induce excitement. Hello, Brussels sprouts trend. Vegetarians and vegans also are not limited to a solitary choice of rotini with tomato sauce (except maybe on airplanes) when out of the house. In fact, some of the most creative dishes I’ve had of late in restaurants are the veg-heavy ones. Vegetables are having their moment, especially with Mediterranean cuisines being touted for their health benefits, and deservedly so.

Having only spent about six hours in Montreal, I have no opinion of Montreal smoked meat and how great it must be for New Yorkers that it is now available care of Mile End Delicatessen in Brooklyn and Mile End Sandwich in Manhattan. With a much larger sandwich menu (and an easy pit stop on a Sunday afternoon in the city), I have frequented the newer sandwich shop more often and always find myself attracted not to the Montreal specialty but to vegetarian offerings. Fried eggplant. Fried green tomato. Hardly health food, but by battering and frying the bounty of the earth, I will surely eat my vegetables.

What could be better than a warm, thick slab of eggplant that rewards your mouth with the always adored soft-crispy texture? Certainly not piles of meat. Especially not when you get that thick slab alongside salty halloumi cheese, roasted peppers, and grilled spring onions. Maybe a hefty fried tomato that’s as juicy as any burger would tempt me away.

Now, of course, I want to make my way through the flesh offerings on the Mile End menu, but I’m not in any rush. I’ll happily enjoy the fruits of the fryer rather than the smoker for the time being. And I mean, aren’t we supposed to be moving toward a more plant-heavy diet, anyway? Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman would approve.

 

Fried green tomato

Mile End Sandwich
53 Bond St, New York City 

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