The eggplant, a vegetarian recipe staple, has always been a source of heated yet friendly contention between my mother and I. She tells me I should love it, I tell her I don’t. She tells me I’m just flat out wrong and should try it again. So when my tattoo artist suggested that a small eggplant join the watercolor veggies that would scheduled to cover my shoulder, I had to laugh.
A tribute to Mom, maybe?
A Day at Fordhook Farm
Stepping out onto the back deck at Burpee Seed Company’s Fordhook Farm was a moment, indeed. I had received an invitation to their annual media day the year before, and had to decline at the last minute due to a poorly timed basement flood. This year, another invitation followed, and nothing could have kept me away. Until I arrived, that is. After seeing the crowd of chefs (hello, Gabe Kennedy!), critics, press and PR folks, it took everything I had not to turn and run.
The imposter syndrome is real, my friends.
But the promise of secret gardens, new friends and insider info (new product reveals!) was just too much, and I reluctantly forced myself to stay, drink wine, roam gardens and taste tomatoes beneath a sun that seemed to shine with the sole purpose of fueling all the glorious greenery that covered the estate.
You couldn’t miss the magic. The old barn, the seed house, the kitchen garden and secret places where new hybrids are carefully grown. I love a good food story, and this place had a lot to say.
Meeting the Meatball
The highpoint of the day might be arguable, but if I had to choose one, it would be the introduction of the unforgettable George Ball, who heads Pennsylvania-based Burpee as chairman and chief executive. He addressed our group, and his character was evident within a few opening lines. We laughed and settled in, as it seemed that Mr. Ball’s presence made us all feel a little more comfortable. Then, he began to make the announcement of the day. The big news, and the reason we were invited.
His voice became more boisterous as he asked us to imagine a “vine-ripened steak.” His smile broadened as he told us that we were about to experience true grass-fed “meat.” Finally, Mr. Ball told us what it was that he cradled in his hand…
It was the answer to meatless meals that satisfy. A game-changer for the vegetarian crowd. It was the Meatball, a new eggplant hybrid exclusively available from Burpee. Nothing short of history in the making, according to Mr. Ball and his team.
The Need for a New Eggplant
A decrease in meat consumption is an American trend for many reasons, from health-related to financial and even environmental. The problem is that meat substitutes that truly mimic the heartiness of meat are hard to come by, and concerns about soy and highly processed meat replacements are on the rise.
W. Atlee Burpee & Co., America’s home gardening industry leader since 1876, has developed a hybrid eggplant that addresses all of the most common cooking concerns folks face with the traditional eggplant. The Meatball was bred to have a meatier texture, lower water content and a succulent, anything-but-bitter flavor with the purpose of revolutionizing vegetarian cuisine… and beyond.
Is it possible that this dark purple beauty just might be the best meat substitute ever?
Culinary history in the making? As a veggie lover with no time for eggplant and its finicky ways, I was skeptical–but not for long.
As expected, the food prepared at our media event was fresh, colorful and delicious, but it was the vegetarian meatball (yes, a Meatball meatball) that had everyone buzzing. After some careful sampling, I was genuinely wowed by the remarkable similarity to an actual meat meatball.You'll want to plant these Meatballs in your garden. Meet the new Meatball #Eggplant from @BurpeeGardens: Click To Tweet
The Meatball Eggplant is off and running as a new addition to Burpee’s lineup in 2016. From veteran gardeners to novices who have never grown an eggplant before, customers are intrigued and the company is finding itself inundated with interest. Seeds are available now, although Burpee recommends that first time growers order plants, which they will ship directly to home gardeners at the right time for planting based on their grow zone.
Hardy, versatile, easy to grow, and delivered at just the right time. Let the Meatball revolution begin!
And so it goes that I got my tattoo, and I just ordered my first trio of Meatball plants to be planted this spring. My most sincere thanks to George Ball and the folks at Burpee for inspiring me to have my eggplant… and eat it, too.
Visit Burpee online to find out more about the Meatball eggplant and other new hybrids. While you’re surfing, check out some exclusive recipes, order seeds, and learn more about your grow zone.