Hold on to your pants, kids, because I’m about to drop a bomb on you. I HATE EGGPLANT. Not as much as the wretched and rotten MUSHROOM (I HATE YOU SO MUCH, MUSHROOM!), or on the level of mittens, clowns and fennel, but it’s pretty up there in the den of hatred. Often eggplant is this oily, rubbery mass that simply appears on a plate, and you find yourself trying to cloak it with sauce and seasoning until it’s barely unrecognizable. Until it looks like chicken, veal or whatever.
When I was young I wailed when faced with an eggplant parmesan. Fled the scene when my ex-boyfriend tried to fry some in a skillet. And the only time I truly appreciate the eggplant was when a friend received a coveted eggplant parmesan recipe from a Sicilian grandmother. This parm took eight hours to make, and you damn well better not leave the kitchen because this vegetable needs care, a blanket and candlelight conversation. Afraid that another inferior experience would mar the Sicilian perfection, I refuse to eat eggplant on the regular, until today.
On a lark I stumbled upon La Petit Italien. Tucked away from Hugo and the other tourist traps that dot Place du Vosges, this fine eatery is a favorite among the Parisians (in the two hours I spent there for lunch I didn’t hear a single English word spoken, and many of the reviews I found were in French) and host to a fantastic menu of appetizers, salads, fresh vegetables and homemade pastas. Rarely I’m in a restaurant and I covet EVERY SINGLE DISH THAT IS SERVED IN A TEN-TABLE RADIUS. From the quatre formage ravioli to the delicate charcuterie to the cream pasta tossed with shrimp (and I hate fish!) to the roasted vegetables salad, everything at Le Petit Italien will make your mouth water.
So I made the leap and ordered the aubergine + gorgonzola bruschetta, and it was BIBLICAL. The eggplant was tender, crisp and buttery juxtaposed with the sweetness of the cheese — grounded by the rustic ciabatta. The homemade linguine was stellar, sauced to perfection and I nearly dove my fork into the blond tiramisu at the next table. PERFECTION.
Of note, the staff didn’t speak English (they were unbelievably responsive and charming), but I survived with the help of my iTranslate Voice application.
Location: Le Petit Italien Rue Saint-Gilles, 5, 75003 Paris, France
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