Eggplant Pilgrimage

This review of Greece was submitted to NatGeo writing travel scholarship.

Eggplants are boring; everybody knows that, after all they’re just…well, vegetables.

Luscious tomato sauce drizzled over scrumptious beef, only to be coated by a desirable, covetable, comforting thick layer of béchamel sauce –singed to perfection—but lies underneath all of these indulging layers a foundation of brilliance; slices of eggplants cooked with a refreshingly comforting and sweetly surprising tangy flavor that can only send you to heaven and back. At that moment, as the explosion of flavors danced on my taste buds, I knew that I have arrived in Athens and I was being served their delicious Moussaka.

I have come to Greece to stand before the temple of Apollo in Delphi and pretend to see the two words that I wanted to achieve “Know thyself”, imagine that I wasn’t just staring at some ruins, but that I was there when it was bustling with life, a temple midst ancient Greece and I have come to pray, to beg for salvation, for guidance. Standing there; out of breath, the Greek summer sun burning my face, I have acknowledged my failure to know anything about myself, but realized the potential of an interesting journey in a more mouth-watering way.

Anyone who’s been to Greece will swear by the experience of watching the sun setting over “Oia” in Santorini and I highly recommend that, I really do, but if you truly want to enjoy that Sunset, I would suggest making a reservation at one of the restaurants at “Oia” and just as the orange sun is setting in the azure sea of Santorini, take a bite of the eggplant Bruschetta; Slices of heavenly crunchy bread, hard enough to produce a delectable crunch, yet soft enough to melt in your mouth, topped with perfectly spiced roasted eggplants, only to be heaped with lusciously white Greek Feta (and until you’ve been to Greece, any idea of Feta cheese is an illusion), which is adorned by explosive bits of thyme and then lovingly drizzled with the clearest Olive oil you’ve seen in your life. The best sunset of your life, guaranteed.

Personally, I have loved every beach I have been to in Greece, but I have enjoyed myself the most diving in the clear waters of the “white beach” in Santorini; getting there is a bit tricky, because it’s a bay surrounded by cliffs and rocks all over, so you can take a kaik (a Greek wooden boat that gives you the authentic experience) from the village of Akrotiri, usually the fare includes a trip to the red beach as well, also worth a visit. Yet, the most vivid memory of my beach experiences is of buying a banana from a fruit vendor. Other than the fact that it was the most expensive banana I have had in my life, it was also the most enticing, juiciest and satisfying and that’s all due to the volcanic nature of the soil in Greece.

So, no, eggplants aren’t boring.


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