Try as I might to outgrow this tendency, in summer I go barefoot, and spend my days at the beach. It was how I raised. My mom and I went to the town beach on weekday mornings. We would pack a thermos of lemonade and a cooler of tuna salad sandwiches, Fritos, and plums and sit and scamper and read and chat with the other moms and kids in a circle of low chairs on the spit of sand between the scalding asphalt and stagnant Long Island Sound. There were daily contests to determine who could hold a fireball in his mouth the longest. And a thousand games of Going West were played on the stationary stagecoach. There was sand in the car until school started again in September.
My first job was selling ice cream on the beach. And when I wasn’t working I was laying out at Meig’s Point with my friends, meeting lifeguards with Sun-In in our hair, with the radio tuned to KC 101. I go back to Hammonasset again and again. Home from college before the park opened for the season, following the strand for miles and reading paperbacks between the dunes. It’s where I land to walk and think and catch up with friends. Last month I brought Violet there, so that present and past could meet at the water. She loved the small waves crashing over her feet. This is how I want her to know summer. Wet bathing suits hanging out the back of the Jeep and blueberry stained fingers until we’re home for the night.
There isn’t much time for meal planning or cooking elaborate meals this time of year. And no need. Vegetables and dip, bread and cheese, grilled burgers and veggies, and ice cream all are good options. Last night, I made lamb burgers with cucumbers and tzatziki and these eggplant fries on the side. I used one medium-sized, shiny, deep purple eggplant and it yielded more than enough for us. They were salty and crisp outside and creamy inside. Definitely serve and eat immediately. And be sure to drain the fries on a paper bag or paper towel then move them to a cooling rack so they don’t get soggy. Salt liberally, and dip in your favorite condiment. I served them with a roasted red pepper aioli, which was terrific.
- 1 medium-sized eggplant
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil, for frying
- Peel eggplant and slice into ¾ inch sticks. In a shallow bowl combine flour and seasoning. In a deep pot heat oil over medium-high until it reaches 360 degrees. Fry eggplant in small batches, about 2 minutes, until deep golden brown. Use a skimmer to turn and remove from oil, depositing onto paper, then moving to a baking rack. Sprinkle with kosher salt while they’re hot and serve.