The French seem to have a much deeper appreciation for cooking and eating than most people do. In conjunction with a love of butter and salt, one must have a great respect for cuisine that grew from a necessity and evolved into something great. Cheep food that today is considered fancy. Enter ratatouille; simple, French, inexpensive and flavorful.
First of all we all eat with our eyes. This dish will serenade you into a salivary seizure with its marriage of the stark white of the eggplant and the bright yellows and greens of the squash in contrast with the deep velvety red of the tomato sauce enveloping it.
Glistening golden onions infuse sweet rich browns and golds into the sauce. The slight smattering of fresh herbs like thyme, marjoram and thin slices of garlic adorning the top play a whimsical dance of freshness on the richness beneath.
The smells from this humble dish are that which culinary wet dreams are made of. The smells of onions gently sautéing into glorious golden ribbons of flavor. The clean crisp smell of a raw eggplant. The sweet sharp acidic smell of freshly peeled tomatoes reducing into a rouge sauce so succulent.
All these smells happen before the dish is close to making the long trip down the culinary rabbit hole in the oven of heat and time. Something magical happens when these buxom bombshells of cuisine, tomatoes, garlic and onions, all jump in the hot tub together. The squash, zucchini and eggplant were invited to this swinger party without knowing the sexy journey they were about to embark on.
Texturally this dish is soft, supple, velvety and clean. A crusty toasted crunch from French bread give a much needed roughing up. A smattering of creamy goat cheese smoothes everything off on your palate.
The flavors of this dish weave a seductive path around ones mouth and wake up every taste bud on ones tongue. It is simultaneously savory, succulent, sour, sweet, bitter and fresh. The way in which all of the individual ingredients play different notes with each other weaving a culinary sonata or crescendos, chords and codas. The music it creates is rich and somber with deep heavy notes sustained.
It creates light ethereal chords in the background that entice one to the next bite. All the while maintaining a melody that is plucky, round and intently satisfying. No one ingredient out shines the rest but it maintains the integrity of each on their own, all the while elevating the whole to something substantial and tremendous.