..…and no, that is not a euphemism. I am referring to the OG aubergine, the Solanum melongena, the eggplant, the purple, squishy, bulbous vegetable that is actually botanically a fruit, according to the gospel of Wikipedia.
Fun, versatile, cheap, and often found without needless plastic packaging; a dreamy combo. I used to frequently pop one into my shopping basket (still very much not a euphemism).
But, this evening, I decided that I won’t be doing this again for a while. I didn’t get into a fight with one, or suddenly break out in hives. No one hit me over the head with a purple bulb. I was just painfully reminded of one of the particular contrivances of the woman upstairs; and one which I will no longer tolerate.
My Dad cooked a lovely veggie masala curry for dinner. My Dad makes the best curries. Plenty of heat and spice and everything nice. It’s pretty remarkable that one of his veggie curries is now one of my “safe” meals. Before my recent spell in hospital, I needed a week’s notice and a huge amount of overthinking to incorporate this meal into the woman upstairs’ rigid routines – especially if my Dad was also plating up. So it’s good to see measurable progress, especially when it is easy to despair about how far there still is to go.
You can chuck pretty much any vegetable in a curry. There isn’t a set protocol: anything goes. This particular evening, we had a lovely mix of beans, home-grown pumpkin, onions, peppers…and aubergine. I was actually very much looking forward to it. Though, when I put a chunk in my mouth, and almost immediately tasted what I can only describe as the sponginess of anorexic misery.
For the woman upstairs, an aubergine is a very favourable vegetable. Providing high volume for very few calories, it’s perfect for bulking out dishes to make them look and feel more substantial than they actually are. The woman upstairs has had me do this religiously.
Aubergine featured very little in chef Robbie’s cooking in the Priory hospital. (Though, oddly, there was beetroot in or with almost everything?? Like even beetroot on pizza, what??) For three or so months, then, I’ve not really had to encounter, nor think, nor attach any sort of significance to the vegetable. There were plenty of other things on my mind, anyway.
This curry was my first post-admission encounter with Mr S. melongena, and unfortunately, it wasn’t a good one. I was unexpectedly taken aback to that mental place of desperate agony that anorexia put me through for so long. The sheer torture of my pain-filled body crying out for nourishment, whilst I fobbed it off with some glorified purple sponge covered in dry, fat-less seasoning…and still wondering why I didn’t feel any physically better after eating a ‘big meal’.
So, I’ve decided to break up with the humble aubergine, at least for a while. Bless, it’s not its fault really. It’s a classic “it’s not you it's me” kind of sitch. Aubergines are not themselves the problem, they just happen to have been caught up in this complicated ordeal of mine. Moving forwards to better things means saying ‘goodbye for now’.
It’s time to explore and feast on some new opportunities. And again, not a euphemism. I remain boringly heterosexual.
“It’s hard to be clear about who you are when you are carrying around a bunch of baggage from the past.
I’ve learned to let go and move more quickly into the next place.”