Big Mak attack

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

So you've invited over a few dear chums to suck back a couple of cold ones and help set the mood for a little sports on the tube (or at least enable you to endure the ensuing pain). Nothing wrong with that. But are you the stinky, inconsiderate sort or the skinflinty chisler type who doesn't even have the common courtesy to offer your drinking compatriots something good and salty to back up the limbering libations?

Unleashing some old nuts or proffering bags of semi-stale pretzels covers the bare-minimum hospitality requirement. But aren't you better than that? In other words, wouldn't you rather come off as more resourceful and imaginative than any old dolt robotically lumbering through the aisles of any old convenience store?

Enter the eggplant. Wait, don't make that awful face. Because number one, the incredible and unforgettable snack I'm going to describe requires no cooking! And number two, it tastes great in a non-eggplanty way! And C, no, I'm not stupid!

Makdus is a Lebanese/Syrian delicacy of pickled pale-green baby eggplants stuffed with walnuts and red peppers and immersed in oil. Still not sold? Well, anyone who likes olives, caper berries and/or pickles is bound to love these oral exploders, too.

They have a bright brininess and texture reminiscent of those olives or caper berries, but also a richness provided by the walnuts and oil plus the added panache of roasted red peppers. I absolutely love them. Best of all, you need only plunk down $6 to purchase a giant nibble-ready jar (I buy the Al-Daya brand at Mediterranean Food Imports in North Campus).

They're terrific plucked right out of the glass and eaten wrapped in pita bread; but my favorite way to munch on them is to slice them and dish them up as a "duo of eggplants" by serving them with baba ghanouj (I use the excellent, thick, creamy and smoky version made by Mediterranean Food Imports), some sprinklings of feta cheese and toasted pita triangles that serve as little sandwich wraps.

With this impressive snack, I guarantee beer-drinking epiphanies. But, alas, not any sports victories.