Eggplant’s Role in Comfort and Angst
I usually find making Eggplant Parmesan great therapy and a way to relax. On one occasion it created so much angst the story made it into my last book, Strategic Customer Service. I had bought two eggplants at my local supermarket and, upon cutting into them, found them to be brown and icky. I took half of each back to the store to exchange them. I presented the two halves to the service desk and asked to get two new eggplants. The service lady looked at the two halves and smiled her best smile and said, “Sir, I only see one eggplant.” I said, “I only brought half of each – are you calling me a crook?” “No.” She smiled. “I’m only saying I only see one eggplant.” I had to return home and bring back all the pieces of both to get an exchange.
Lesson: Trust your customer! 98% are honest and why run the 98% through the gauntlet to catch the 2%, especially when there is only a $2 eggplant at risk.
John’s Eggplant Parm
2 medium eggplant, unblemished and firm (peeled or unpeeled per your judgment)
Milk, flour, and packaged seasoned breadcrumbs for dredging
Olive oil for browning eggplant
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 2 cups or to taste
2 (12oz) cans of stewed tomato pieces
2 (12oz) cans of tomato sauce
Package of fresh, whole milk (or part-skim) mozzarella
2 t. dried oregano leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn, not cut
Cooked wide noodles (egg noodles or tagliatelle)
- Slice 2 medium eggplant into ¾ inch slices and sprinkle with salt.
- Let the slices weep for an hour in a colander in order to draw out bitter liquids. At the end of the hour, blot with paper towels, dip in milk, and quickly dredge in 50-50 mixture of seasoned breadcrumbs and flour. Let them sit on a rack for a few minutes to “set.”
- Sauté slices in olive oil until brown on both sides, then drain on paper towels.
- Place one layer in a shallow casserole (a lasagne pan works well) and cover with grated Parmesan, followed by a scattering of oregano and basil leaves.
- Scatter a can of stewed tomato pieces across the layer and cover with mozzarella and a 12 oz can of tomato sauce
- Repeat for a second layer.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until bubbling and brown. Let sit for ten minutes before cutting and serving with wide noodles.
John Goodman is the Vice Chairman of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting. He co-founded TARP (Technical Assistance Research Programs), an agency that pioneered the science of customer experience. Among other innovations,TARP established the use of 800 numbers to improve customer experience. John has managed more than 1,000 separate customer service studies, including a White House sponsored evaluation of complaint handling practices in government and business. Follow him on @jgoodman888.
He is looking forward to seeing all y’all at Salesforce, ICMI ACCE in Seattle, and ASQ in Indianapolis.