Dear Philly, I love you

When I started blogging, I had something to prove. I was a finance major just starting in PR; a suburbanite among Philly-savvy girls; a math-y chick trying to show that she could write, too. Not just a chip; I had the whole pile of woodchips on my shoulder.

Pile of woodchips, center. Left, my second husband.

For so long I had been in that mindset that students had to follow one path and that I had to choose between logic and creativity, and at that moment, I wanted to show that one person could do it all. Work. Go to school full time. Follow the prescribed path. Take the goofy side-trips. Pursue the nightlife. Be young. Be sophisticated. Succeed.

And what I didn’t understand at the time was that nobody was impelling me to choose; that I had created this dichotomy in my mind, and that T.I. was, in fact, correct when he rapped, “It ain’t that black and white/it has an area that’s shaded gray”. As the blog progressed, as I struggled to eat without getting fat, flunking out, and going broke, and turned to my friends and my parents for support, it became clear that none of them had put this decision upon me; that they had hoped only the best and most balanced life for me, and that I had created this monster in my imagination.

I took a nearly a month hiatus when most of the joy had been sapped from the challenge; I could not understand why the blog, so fun at first, was no longer engaging. The dishes were still tasty and the company, still entertaining. It didn’t cost any more than it did at first; and I didn’t have any less free time than before. But the ecstasy was gone.

It was not before my recent trip to the homeland that I realized the mission of the blog had been fulfilled; to get to know Philly, to make friends, to prove that I could be creative and logical, fun and sophisticated—it had all been accomplished. And this completion was why it had begun to feel redundant. I don’t know how much chicken I’m going to have to pay for before you can write the review for me: “This is great if you like chicken, but I would rather drive a broadsword into my pelvis”. Or chocolate cake: “MOUTHGASM.” The mission was never about the food. We all knew that.

For the record, I’m not retiring. I have merely found my work-life balance, and it involves a little eating out and a lot of eating in. I like cooking for and with my friends and family, and I want to do that more often. So while I will still be posting about the Best Dishes in Philly, I no longer intend to meet the December 31 deadline. I will keep you posted on my gastronomic endeavors, but for the time being, the pace will slow to one or two posts a week.

That said, my new recipe for vegan-ish eggplant rollatini:

What happens when Gustav and Loqi get busy in the kitch.

1 eggplant, sliced ¼” thick lengthwise

About 2 cups vegetable broth

About 2 cups breadcrumbs

About 2 cups tomato gravy

A lot of oil

About 2 cups of whatever is lying in your fridge. I used some fried potatoes and onions and mixed them with some peas.

Preheat oven to 400* F. Simmer the eggplant in the vegetable broth in a large saucepan until tender. Roll in breadcrumbs. Dump out the broth and replace with oil. Fry the eggplant in the oil until golden brown, remove from oil and allow to cool. Put in a little wedge of goodies, roll the eggplant up. Pour the tomato sauce in an 8”x8” pan, line up the eggplant rolls, and place in the hot oven. Grate some parm on top (optional and reduces veganism of dish). Bake until the sauce is bubbly and cheese is melty, about 15 minutes.

MMM.

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