Chard and artichoke tart with a crispy eggplant crust

Eggplant-crusted chard tart

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about, in a very confused fashion, for the last half a day (and night!) We all know the myth of Icarus – his father, Daedalus, fashioned him a pair of wings made of wax and feathers. He warned him not to fly too close to the sun, but he was so giddy with the joy of flight, that he forgot his father’s words, flew too close to the sun, the wax melted, he continued happily flapping his arms, but without feathers he could no longer fly. He fell into the sea and drowned. And we all know the painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, attibuted to Bruegel. It’s a beautiful painting of a beautiful landscape, with people going about their business, unaware of Icarus’ fall, which is small and on the edge of the painting. And people have written poems about the painting. Auden’s Musée des Beaux-Arts, in which he describes how suffering “takes place/ While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.” And William Carlos Williams wrote a poem by the same name as the painting, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. So that’s the “evidence” and here are the questions… what does it all mean? Is Auden suggesting, as the word “dull” implies, that the ploughman and the angler are too coarse to take note of the tragedy of loftier men? Or is it that, simply, things go unnoticed. We’re so taken with our own lives and concerns that we don’t have the time or energy to commiserate with others? Is the original myth really a warning about excessive hubris? Or, was Icarus just enjoying the feeling of flight to such an extent that he forgot to be careful? People suffer all the time – ploughmen and anglers and painters and poets and master inventors. I suppose all the suffering is equally important (or unimportant) whether somebody paints a picture of it, or writes a poem or about it, or doesn’t notice it at all. The painting itself is so gorgeous, the people walking along with supposed dullness are so vibrantly portrayed. And, as the poets say, spring is in full glory, the sea is cool and pretty, the sun is hot and strong, and all of this will be true no matter what the fate of the men passing through the landscape. And then I can’t not think of Stephen Dedalus, with his suggestion that ‘The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.’ Surely not, Joyce. Surely not! That quote has always bothered me. I’d love to have a meal with Pieter Bruegel, and Williams Carlos Williams, and WH Auden, and maybe even Ovid, and drink some wine and talk it all over.

Chard tart with crispy eggplant crust

Maybe I’d make them this eggplant crusted chard and artichoke tart! I think it turned out quite pretty, and it certainly tasted good. The “crust” is made entirely of pieces of eggplant, dipped in egg, then dipped in pecans, breadcrumbs and a touch of flour, and then roasted in olive oil. I used a lot of bread crumbs and a small amount of flour, but if you used only pecans and gluten-free breadcrumbs, you’d have a gluten-free crust! The filling is soft and flavorful and savory, and the pine nuts add a nice toasty crunch on top. I served this with a smooth smoky, spicy, sweet sauce made with fresh tomatoes, green peppercorns, olives and raisins.

Tomato-raisin-olive sauce

Holy smoke! I forgot to post a song yesterday! Horrors. Here’s Alec Ounsworth with This is Not My Home (After Bruegel)
Continue reading